How to Build a Fitted Wardrobe Using MDF (Step-by-Step Guide)

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 09/11/2018

How to Build a Fitted Wardrobe Using MDF (Step-by-Step Guide)

What if we told you it was really easy to build your own fitted wardrobe using MDF?

Even better, how would you feel if we told you it can be done in a single weekend?

Yes, it's true!

In this article, we're going to share with you how it's done... simply!

Most bedrooms have a common problem – too many items to store, and not enough storage space!

This leads to a lot of clutter and items stored in all sorts of impractical places. If you are in this kind of situation and would gladly like to do something about it, then continue reading...

How to build a fitted wardrobe yourself

A fitted wardrobe will help you make the best use of your limited space, and you will not have to spend a fortune making it

You could fit a wardrobe underneath a staircase, or in a small corner of a room, enabling you to gain more storage space.

You can also customise it just the way you like, making it easier to complement any existing furnishings or colour schemes

It's fairly simple to build a wardrobe yourself by using affordable MDF boards.

Just go through the following steps to see for yourself.

1. Determine the Space

You will first need to decide where you intend to place your wardrobe.

Measure the space so as to plan it out.

You will want to make maximum use of the height available, especially if your floor space is limited.

2. Set Your Dimensions

Once you've measured up your space, you will then need to set out the overall dimensions of the wardrobe.

Ideally there should be a width of about 50cm per door, or double that for a double doored wardrobe.

Make sure you consider the way the doors will open, and the layout inside the wardrobe.

Remember... it's always a good idea to think about the types of items you intend to store in your wardrobe.

This will enable you to plan properly in terms of number and types of shelves, hanging space and drawers.

So... always plan ahead!

3. Get the Right Tools

You will need to have the right tools to make the job as easy as possible. Never try to cheat. Tools make light work!

You will need:

  • measuring tape
  • good quality screws at various lengths
  • a saw
  • an electric drill
  • electric screwdriver or impact driver
  • a wood plane
  • wood glue or suitable adhesive

4. Define Compartments

You will need to spend a considerable amount of time planning on paper

This is to make sure that you define all the compartments that there will be inside the wardrobe, as well as the various panels and parts you will have to have for each and every one of them.

18mm MDF panels are ideal for the outer parts as well as the inner compartments, whereas 12mm wide panels can suffice for the door panels.

When going to buy the MDF boards, make sure to take the dimensions of all the individuals parts with you as most timber stores will cut them out for you, saving you a great deal of time and effort.

Smaller cuts can be easily done at home with a handsaw, but the longer cuts are much harder and time consuming unless you have a good quality jigsaw or circular saw.

You will need to start off by setting up the outer frame of the wardrobe.

Reinforce the joints of these outer structure panels with corner brackets as well as screws.

When this structure is in place, you can then move on to the smaller parts, that is, the various inner compartments.

5. Shelves & Drawers

Make sure to mark all the panels and parts as this will make it easier for you when you start forming the drawers and compartments.

It's a good idea to create grooves which will allow you to slide the required panels inside easily, before screwing them up to the horizontal panels above and below, or to vertical ones on the sides.

Make sure everything is properly aligned.

Drawers can be constructed really easily.

Measure up the four parts, glue them to one another, and finally screw them up together.

Attach the runners on the sides, and insert into the wardrobe to see that they fit properly and align well.

You may wish to install a front panel for more sturdiness and to install the knob more easily.

Shelves are even easier to make than drawers!

All you need is panels, and the side fittings to place them onto when inserting them into their rightful places inside the wardrobe.

And finally, install the doors! Your wardrobe is practically finished!

6. Materials & Finishing

With regards to materials, you will need plenty of MDF boards cut to the required size.

MDF is smooth, so there is no need for sanding, other than at the edges where the cuts have been made.

7. Hardware & Handles

You are going to need many screws.

Try to choose screws that do not make a very large hole when fastened to the panels.

You will also need drawer runners for drawers.

You will need knobs or handles for drawers and for the wardrobe doors.

Corner brackets are recommended for more sturdiness, and you will also need brackets for the shelves.

And that's practically it... you're virtually done!

As you can see it is really easy.

All you need are some basic tools, affordable materials and hardware, and some forward planning!

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow our guidelines, watch this amazing video uploaded to YouTube by Charlie DIYte for really helpful instructions on making your own fitted wardrobe using MDF sheets:

10 Common Kitchen Design Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 15/10/2018

When it comes to kitchen renovations it is always best to consult experts and professionals that understand the different elements and features of a strategic design. There are certain rules that are generally followed when it comes to designing the layout of your new kitchen. This is an incredibly important area and it must be designed properly. If you are planning on renovating your kitchen or beginning from scratch, this article will outline how to avoid the top 10 design mistakes that too many home owners have make.

The following outline will give you 10 common mistakes that you will want to avoid at all costs. Your kitchen is an integral room in your home, so be sure to follow these suggestions as you continue reading below.

1) Lack of Traffic Flow

Being able to access all the different sections of your kitchen is important and leads to a better functioning area. You will need to design the right layout that optimises the space available to you. You want a fully functioning cooking area that allows for good workflow and is easy to move around.

2) Unused Storage Space

There is plenty of different things in a kitchen and you will undoubtedly need plenty of storage space. Be sure that everything is organised and that your food preparation areas are clear of clutter and allow space. You can use the walls to hang objects or you can increase cupboard space and even install vertical cabinets. There are many different options available to maximise storage space. Just look at the different options out there and be creative.

3) Poor Lighting

Every kitchen needs to provide good lighting as there are many tasks that are involved with food preparation. Adding illumination can add beauty to your cooking area but it does not need to be a dramatic effect. Ensure that you have a safe working area that is properly lighted for preparing food.

4) Low-Quality Kitchen Items

You will want to purchase items that will last for a long time and won't break down from wear and tear right away. Purchasing items at a discount or using poor quality products will only cost you more money. Kitchen environments provide a lot of wear and tear so invest in quality items to save money instead of wasting it on inefficient tools you will need to regularly replace.

5) Bad Ventilation

Having a kitchen that stinks up the entire house with the foods you are cooking is not ideal. You will want to ensure that your kitchen is well ventilated and using range hoods will circulate air. Also adding a window can help with fumes, whilst decent ventilation extends the life of your appliances and will fill your home with fresh air and fewer odours.

6) Using an Inappropriate Kitchen Island

Having the wrong kitchen island or having it in the wrong location causes more trouble then it solves. It may, in fact, cause clutter and hassles with manoeuvrability and cooking. Make sure you choose the correct shape and size that won't obstruct the kitchen or interrupt traffic flow.

7) Bad Garbage Systems

You will need an optimised solution for dealing with trash management when it comes to your kitchen. Your cooking area can end up looking dirty and even smelling bad if this is not managed appropriately. You need cleanliness and having proper garbage disposal is necessary. A good idea is to use a container that has a cover or hide it in the cabinet.

8) Changing the Kitchen Layout

Some people will make a final decision on what they desire and then they keep on making changes. You will want to stick to your design plan and meet your requirements. Changing your ideas and layout will only cost more money. Be sure to pick a plan that you can stick with that you will appreciate.

9) Following Trends

Some homeowners will choose to follow a certain trend or style just for the sake of it. Unfortunately once the trend has changed, your kitchen will look outdated. If you cannot redesign and refit your kitchen regularly, then you should use a timeless design that works for you. It is a good idea to use a general theme and to avoid overspending on appliances based on trends.

10) Not Seeking Consultation

If you are not a design professional, don't try to do the work yourself. You can save money and ensure proper workmanship by hiring professionals to get it done for you. You can also hire consultants for design ideas and to really get the kitchen of your dreams. Also, pick a budget and stick to it and be flexible for best results.

How to Design a U-Shaped Kitchen Peninsula

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 13/09/2018

Choosing a U-shaped kitchen peninsula can be a great addition as an ideal option for those who are looking to change the look and layout of their kitchen. When peninsula kitchen designs are utilised, they offer many of the same benefits as an island that includes extra storage space, more workspace for food preparation, as well as a place to socialise with family and friends. A U-shaped kitchen peninsula can fit in almost any kitchen location and this article will enlighten you to the various complexities involved with designing a U-shaped kitchen peninsula that brings better functionality to your cooking area.

There are 5 key points that we will examine on how to build the best U-shaped peninsula possible. Continue reading below to gain much-needed details that you should know before choosing to incorporate this feature into your kitchen design:

What is a Peninsula?

The first thing you will need to know is what exactly a U-shaped kitchen peninsula is. They are very similar to a kitchen island in the sense that they are a unit that provides a worktop and storage space. However, instead of standing freely in the middle of your kitchen, a U-shaped kitchen peninsula is attached to three walls and have a distinct shape. They are accessible from one side and are an extension to help separate open space in the layout of the kitchen. A kitchen island is accessible from all four separate sides which differentiates the U-shaped peninsula.

1) Pros & Cons

There are plenty of positive and negative attributes in choosing to implement this design in your kitchen design. They definitely offer you more counter space and since it is connected to walls there is more storage space that can incorporate extra cupboards and drawers. Another positive attribute to a peninsula is that they fit in smaller kitchens as well as bigger ones. The negative attributes to a peninsula are that they can take up needed space and room and they have less room for other people. They are also more expensive than other peninsulas and islands.

2) Planning the Layout

You will be limited only by your imagination and the available space you have in your kitchen. There are a few methods you can integrate a U-shaped peninsula into your overall layout. You can use it to define a room that helps define zones. They can also be used as a place to eat for breakfasts and casual meals. You can even add a peninsula to an L-shaped kitchen to create the surface area of a U-shaped peninsula. You can also incorporate kitchen appliances within the design.

3) Sink & Hob Positions

Another thing that can be implemented into the design of a U-shaped kitchen peninsula is where you position your hob as well as the sink. It is common for home designers to have the sink and the hob to be in a position directly opposite from each other so they are easily accessible while doing things such as food preparation and cooking. Be sure to have all of the necessities of your U-shaped peninsula to be close to each other for better fluidity and economy of time, motion, and space.

4) Symmetry & Balance

The benefits of U-shaped kitchens give you the distinct opportunity for symmetry with a design that is well balanced. You don't want to compromise the integrity or usability of your kitchen but many homeowners enjoy a clean and balanced aesthetic by incorporating beautiful symmetry. You can easily incorporate kitchen appliances into the symmetry or you can also deviate from a typical design. Your home is entirely unique as you are and building your peninsula will be dependent on the space and structure you have to work within your kitchen area.

5) Maximise Counter Space

Whatever size kitchen your home may have, a benefit of a U-shaped peninsula will give you extra counter space that you can use. It can be utilised for preparing food and can even serve as an area for eating breakfast or even socialising with family and friends. Having more counter space will also offer a much cleaner and less cluttered working area.

A U-shaped peninsula is a great way to improve your kitchen.

With a U-shaped peninsula design, you give yourself much more room for flexibility in designing the final layout. There are plenty of different possibilities and variations on what you can achieve when using this design plan. Be sure to utilise the suggestions above that are right for you and your kitchen needs.

6 Common Practical Uses of MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard)

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 06/08/2018

Medium Density Fibreboard is a specially engineered product that is created from wood fibres. It is a dense product and has many different uses in a variety of industries. Fibreboard is a sturdy product and is often covered with a veneer and it can also include secondary raw materials such as fibres from sugarcane and wood chipping. This is an incredibly versatile material to work with and this article we'll share with you the different practical uses for MDF and what you can do with it. 


To begin with, many different furniture companies utilise specially measured MDF boards and if you have ever purchased an inexpensive piece of furniture like a bookshelf or an entertainment centre, then chances are they may be constructed from MDF. Many different inexpensive furniture pieces are constructed from low to medium-density fibreboard because this particular product is easily produced and is economical, which lowers the cost of manufacturing and production. Using low-density fibreboard typically reduces the costs associated with producing furniture and it is a very common material that is used in the creation of prefabricated furniture. Companies like IKEA and other big store companies offer products that are built from this material.


Another thing that medium density fibreboard is known for is home interior cabinetry. It's most common to find cabinets made of fibreboard and then finished with solid wood laminate on top. Home interior products like kitchen cabinets and shelving units are typically built from MDF and this also includes doors, mouldings and sometimes even flooring such as wood effect laminates. There are many different applications that can be integrated with using medium density fibreboard and these are only a few examples of how it is used in home interiors.

Fire Resistance

One interesting use for medium density fibreboard that many people may not be aware of is for its fire retardant capabilities. Certain buildings and structures require the use of fire retardant MDF in their construction. This type of fibreboard is known to be used in the construction of commercial buildings which include stores and offices and other buildings that must meet certain building regulations and requirements for safety. Some homeowners choose to use fire retardant MDF in the construction of their homes as well as to provide further protection from any possible fires spreading.

Vapour Repulsion

Medium density fibreboard can also be utilised as a vapour barrier and insulation for both homes and commercial buildings. This is because it has a durability and treatment that makes it an excellent vapour barrier when used with other vapour repellant products. This type of wood is able to deal with long periods of moisture and drying out without being damaged like shrinking or going through the process of rotting. It can act as a vapour barrier and it can also offer insulation and prevent heat loss which would ultimately help with lowering heating costs and electrical bills.


This may not be as widely known, but fibreboard can also provide soundproofing and lower the ability of sound to travel. Many speaker manufacturers use medium density fibreboard or particle board because it absorbs sound and prevents vibration from inside the speaker casing. This wood product can also be used in media rooms, walls of apartment buildings and offices as well as floor underlayment to help minimise sound disturbances and noise pollution. Many different contractors and building companies use MDF for this particular purpose during construction for the application of reducing noise and sound traveling.


Another interesting fact about the versatility known for fibreboard is its use for around the home both inside and outside. Fibreboard can be used for all sorts of housing needs including roofing materials for low sloped roofs. MDF is an excellent material that can be used as backing for shingles of any kind of roof. You can also use it as sheathing for walls inside your home. MDF is incredibly durable as well as flexible which gives it numerous applications when it comes to a family home both in the interior and exterior.

Ultimately medium density fibreboard is a top-notch solution with many different uses and things that it can be used for. This list of common practical uses of MDF is just a short example and there are plenty of more uses that MDF can be utilised for. It will continue to be a cheaper option rather than purchasing timber products such as plywood and with its numerous uses, it will always be a well known and widely used material in the fabrication of furniture all the way to the construction of buildings and homes.

How to fit a laminate or wooden kitchen worktop

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 06/07/2018

Make your countertop a perfect fit every time


Before proceeding, it is assumed that your kitchen floor units are fully installed, are fixed in their permanent positions and have been adequately levelled to prevent any issues with fitting the worktop correctly. If not, please ensure you have sufficiently levelled the floor units and secured them in place before attempting to fit a kitchen worktop.

If you wish to fit a granite, quartz or solid surface material such as corian, this must be carried out by a fully qualified professional who will create an accurate template of your kitchen and prepare the worktop off-site before delivering and fully fitting. This tutorial will only concentrate on cuttable surfaces such as laminate, solid wood or butchers block.

Finally, make sure all of your kitchen floor units are clean and free from debris such as sawdust or any other contaminants that may affect your final finish. You also want to ensure all surfaces are sufficiently prepared, flat and true such as the back walls behind the units, before attaching the worktop.

Tools Required

As with any DIY project, you need the best tools to get the best results. For this job, you’ll need:

  • kitchen worktop (laminate, wood or butchers block)
  • worktop joining strips
  • length of timber baton
  • 2 x G-clamps
  • circular saw
  • eye goggles
  • gloves
  • measuring tape
  • utility square
  • pencil (for marking up)
  • electric or Phillips screwdriver
  • sandpaper
  • hacksaw
  • electric drill and drillbits
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • screws

Setting Out

Planning ahead or what professionals refer to as “setting out” is incredibly important, as it will help give you a clear plan of how you will lay your worktop onto the units, where longer lengths of worktop will fit and where adjoining pieces will fit. Where possible, you want to do as little cutting as possible and take advantage of the factory cut edges for adjoining pieces. They will be very square and true and most likely give a neater edge than cutting with a handsaw or electric circular saw. You also want to have as fewer joins as possible so that your worktop looks like one continuous piece.

If for example, you have a U-shaped or L-shaped kitchen, you should use longer pieces of worktop along the longest walls and use smaller pieces for adjoining sections. You want to place joining strips in places that will be least visible and will not spoil the final finish.

Once you have worked out how and where you wish to lay your worktop, you are ready to start.

Measuring & Cutting

Firstly, start with the longest wall and measure the length of worktop you need to fit with one continuous piece from end-to-end. If there are any exposed edges, make sure you compensate for a sufficient overhang over the kitchen unit’s edge, usually at least 20mm and then mark up the kitchen worktop on the underside using a measuring tape, a pencil and a square.

Now with the worktop on a cutting table or saw horse with the underside facing upwards, clamp a piece of timber baton to the worktop as a cutting guide for your circulate saw, so that the blade exactly lines up with the pencil mark you have just made. Make sure that the baton is securely in place and squarely aligned with the pencil marking. The baton will act as a secure cutting guide that your circular saw with press against and ensure the cut is as straight and as clean as possible.

When ready to cut, make sure you wear a pair of protective goggles and gloves. Then cut the worktop with your circular saw in one smooth continuous motion. Do not stop halfway through as this may lead to splintering of the worktop and ruin the final finish.

After cutting, you may need to give the edge a light sandpaper just to remove any nicks or odd edges. Make sure not to sand the visible worktop surfaces and only concentrate on the sides.

Fitting the Worktop

Now lift the cut worktop into position and lay it on top of the base units precisely where you intend to fit it. Push it correctly into position and check that the back is firmly pressed against the rear wall, the overhang at the front is even and any side overhangs are correct. Once satisfied, use a couple of G-clamps to hold the worktop firmly to the units below ready for attaching.

Some suppliers use L-Brackets whilst others require you to drill through the underneath of your units into the worktop and screw them together directly. Either way, you will need to use an electric drill to drill pilot holes from your base units into the worktop. Make sure not to drill too far so that you do not pierce the worktop and ruin the surface. Pilot holes only need to be short just to make attaching the units to the worktops easier and quicker.

Once you have drilled your pilot holes through the base cabinets into the worktop, simply screw them together using the supplied screws and a screwdriver. You should connect the worktop at both the front and towards the back of the base units to ensure a firm, snug fit that will not move.

You should now have your first piece of worktop fitted in place.

Repeat the process above for your additional pieces, ensuring that your cuts are neat and compensate for any overhangs. If you are cutting an adjoining piece, you will most likely need to attach a joining strip to the edge to give a neater, flush edge.

Simply measure the length of strip required and cut it to length using a hacksaw. Then attach the joining strip to the required edge of your worktop using the supplied screws and slide into place. Then when you are satisfied the worktop is positioned correctly, attach it to the base units as described above.

Finishing Touches

If you have any exposed cut edges on surfaces such as laminate, you may need to glue a finishing strip to the edge. Finishing strips are usually supplied in lengths that will need to be cut down. So firstly, tape it to the edge of your worktop using some masking tape and draw the shape using a pencil by templating around the edge of the worktop profile. Then cut the end strip with scissors to carefully create a perfect fitting edge.

Use the glue supplied, ensuring the room has sufficient ventilation due to fumes and apply to both the end strip and the worktop edge. Once it has cured and is ready (usually around 15 minutes), press the end strip in place and use some masking tape to hold it in place until the glue has fully set. Once set, remove the masking tape and your end strip should be firmly affixed.

If the end strips show any odds edges that protrude, you can use a light sandpaper to gently file off any rough edges to make the finish as smooth as possible.

You should now be ready to install all of your remaining kitchen worktops by following the above instructions.

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow our guidelines, watch the useful video below by Wickes for really helpful instructions on fitting a laminate or sold wood kitchen worktop:

How to fit kitchen plinths, pelmets & cornices

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 07/06/2018

Give your kitchen the perfect finishing touches


Before proceeding, it is assumed that your kitchen floor units and wall cabinets have all been fitted and fully installed and are fixed in their permanent positions. If otherwise, please refer to our previous blog posts explaining how to fit kitchen cabinets correctly. It is also assumed that any flooring has been laid fully and is fitted beneath your kitchen units. Plinths should only be fitted once your floor coverings are in place.

Finally, make sure all surfaces are clean and free from debris such as sawdust, dirt, cement dust, screed or any other contaminants that may affect your final finish. You want to ensure all areas and surfaces are clean before proceeding.

Tools Required

As with any DIY project, you need the best tools to get the best results. For this job, you’ll need:

  • electric mitre saw (or mitre block and fine toothed handsaw)
  • jigsaw (with fine toothed blade)
  • measuring tape
  • pencil (for marking up)
  • utility square
  • electric or Phillips screwdriver
  • lengths of plinths, pelmets & cornices
  • plinth brackets and clips
  • screws
  • joining blocks
  • mitre bond

What Goes Where?

Before staring, it is crucial to understand which pieces are suited to various parts of your kitchen units.

The plinths, sometimes referred to as kkckboards, are designed to go underneath your kitchen cabinets where they meet the floor. They are designed to give a nice, neat finished to your cabinets where the floor meets the bottom edges but also to prevent debris and objects from collecting underneath the cabinets.

Pelmets sit at the base of your wall cabinets along the front edge and are considered to be a decorative finish, but also help to hide the underside of your kitchen cabinets which in most cases do not have the same nice finish as the fronts. They are also useful for hiding items such as under-mounted down-lights and cables that may run along the underside of the cabinets.

Lastly, cornices are designed to sit along the front edge at the top of kitchen wall cabinets and are again, considered to be a decorative finished that helps to fill space between the tops of the cabinets and ceiling. They also help to add the illusion of height and in many cases, add a very nice finishing touch to cabinets when installed.

Fitting the Plinths

Plinths are usually supplied in standard lengths of 2.4m - 2.75m so may require cutting to size, depending on the type of kitchen units you have.

If your units have side panels that touch the floor, your plinths will need to sit in between each side panel from one edge of the starting kitchen unit and to the other end of the next. Firstly, measure the gap between each unit side panel and mark the distance on the back of your plinth with a pencil. When marking, use a square to ensure you have a perfectly straight 90º angle before cutting. Now cut the plinth using either an electric mitre saw set at exactly 90º or carefully cut using a fine tooth hand saw.

If the height of your plinths is greater than the gap between your kitchen units and the floor, you may have to trim them lengthways down to an appropriate size. Again, measure the height between your kitchen units and the floor and then make a mark on either side on the rear unfinished side of the plinth and draw a pencil line the full length of the plinth using a straight edge. Using a jigsaw with a fine toothed blade attached, cut the plinth to the desired size.

Once your plinth is correctly cut to size, place your plinth in front of the cabinet feet with the rear unfinished side facing upwards and the cute edge facing towards you. Then, mark the centre position of the feet with a pencil onto the back of the plinth board. Make your marks the full height of the back of the plinth exactly at 90º angles to the feet using a utility square. Once you have your marks in place, screw clip brackets exactly halfway up the plinth and central to the marks you have made. Once in place, slide clips onto each of the the brackets.

Finally, lift plinth into place and gently push the plinth towards the cabinets legs so that the clips pop and grip the legs, holding the plinth into position. Your first plinth should now fitted.

Simply repeat the above process for all your remaining plinths.

Fitting the Pelmets

Like plinths, pelmets are usually supplied at set lengths of around 2.4m long therefore, you may need to cut them down to the correct size.

To start, simply measure from the starting edge of the furthest unit to the next protruding edge on an adjacent unit and mark that length with a pencil on the rear unfinished face of your pelmet. If the first edge is to be a straight cut, make sure the mark you create is 90º true using a utility square, then cut using a fine tooth hand saw or an electric mitre saw set precisely at 90º to your pelmet.

If any of your pelmets are to be fitted to a kitchen unit that sits on an open edge, then you will need to cut mitred edges at an outward 45º angle. For the cleanest, best finish, use an electric mitre saw. However, you can use a fine tooth hand saw and a mitre block, although this does tend to be more fiddly and can lead to uneven mitred edges.

Once your pelmets are all cut to size and are ready to attach to the kitchen units, screw joining blocks to the rear unfinished side of the pelmets at the top of the edge that will touch the underside of the kitchen units. Then position the pelmets flush to the front outside edges of the kitchen units, and screw them to the units on the underside, making sure that any mitred or straight edges are sat precisely where they need to be to create a seamless join with the adjoining pelmet. Apply mitre bond to any mitred edges so that adjoining pieces are sufficiently glued together and show an even, neat edge.

Repeat the above process until all your pelmets are fitted.

Fitting the Cornices

Attaching cornices is practically the same process as fitting pelmets. The only difference is that you are attaching the cornices to the top of your kitchen units. So follow the same practices by accurately measuring your lengths and then make accurate 90º or 45º mitred cuts where appropriate, then screw in joining blocks and then apply mitre bond where necessary.

It’s as simple as that!

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow our guidelines, watch the video below for really helpful instructions on fitting kitchen plinths, pelmets and cornices.

How to fit kitchen door handles

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 08/05/2018

Attach kitchen doors handles yourself and get great results


Before proceeding, make sure your doors are already correctly fitted to your kitchen units and have been suitably adjusted so that they sit level and true. Also ensure that the surfaces of the doors are clean and from debris, dirt or dust to prevent any damage or errors during fitting your handles. Door handles are usually fitted when the doors are attached to the units so you can use your eye to get a better idea of where you want your handles to be attached.

Tools Required

As with all DIY projects, you’ll need the right tools to get the best possible finish. For this job, you’ll need:

  • measuring tape
  • pencil (for marking up)
  • small spirit level
  • G-clamp
  • electric drill and drill bits
  • electric or Phillips screwdriver
  • off-cut of wood
  • door handles and screws

Measuring Up

Assuming your kitchen base cabinets are fully assembled with the doors attached, you’re ready to get started.

As there are various types of door handles available, the placement of your handles may differ. As a general rule, handles will sit centrally width-wise on horizontal drawers, pull outs and cupboards, whilst on traditional floor cupboards, the handles will sit vertically and placed closer to the top corner on the side that opens or near the bottom on floor cabinets on the side that opens. If you’re unsure, check the manufacturers instructions that came with your door handles.

In general, the most common type of handle found in kitchens is the “D-handle” type, which consists of two screws placed at either end of the handle. For this exercise, we will show you how to fit this popular handle type.

To measure up on a regular vertically set cupboard door or pullout, firstly find the correct side where you wish to fit your handles. In general, a floor cupboard will have the handle sat close to the top of the door so that it is easily reached when standing. A wall cabinet however will generally have the handle sat close to the bottom of the door so it is easily reached.

Now you need to decide where you want your handles to be placed. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question as different people have different preferences but always ensure you leave adequate space at both edges where the handle will sit. You do not want your handles too close to edges as they may rub against other surfaces or simply look bad. If for example you are fitting handles to a shaker unit, it is generally accepted that your handles should sit exactly in the middle of both the left and right edges of the raised outer frame to give an even, balanced finished. If your kitchen doors are flat with no framed or beveled edges, it is recommended that your handles are no less than 40mm away from each edge. Any close and the finished look may not be very appealing.

To fit your first handle, measure the exact space between each screw hole on your door handles using a tape measure. Note the distance down on paper in millimetres for later use. Now hold the handle on your door where you feel you would like it to sit, baring in mind to allow sufficient space from each door edge. Now with a pencil, clearly mark the position of first hole you wish to drill with a pencil.

Now take a small spirit level and draw a perfectly vertical line from the middle of the hole you just marked, to approximately the same length as your door handle. And then measure the exact distance from the first hole marked to mark the second hole that matches the distance between the holes on your door handle along the line drawn. You should now have two marks ready to drill before attaching your first handle.

Marking up door handles for horizontal drawers and pull-outs uses exactly the same processes except your handles need to sit precisely in the middle of the doors width. So before marking any holes, find the exact centre of your door by measuring from each edge and mark where the middle of your door is. Then use that mark to draw a horizontal line with a spirit level on your door and mark where the holes on your handles should be along the line.

Drilling Holes & Attaching Handles

Before you begin drilling, always place an off-cut of wood at the back of the door, on the opposite face you intend to drill. Hold it tightly to the door using a G-clamp. The block of wood is there to stop the door from splintering or splitting when the drill reaches the other site. This will ensure clean drill holes every time.

Once you have clamped a block of wood to the opposite face, attach a wood drill bit to your drill that is slightly wider than the screws supplied with your door handles. Begin drilling using the marks you created and drill all the way through the doors. Then repeat the above process for each hole until finished.

Now, with a Philips screwdriver, attach the handles by pushing the screws through your newly drilled holes and tighten until snug. Do not over-tighten as you may damage the door surface.

Your first handle should now be attached.


Assuming you’re happy with the position of your first door handle, you may want to consider creating a template so that you can copy the precise position of the screw holes and carry that through to all your other doors.

There’s various ways to do this. You could use a good quality piece of cardboard and mark the position of the holes by removing the newly fitted handle and then using a pencil to mark the hole positions drilled. Then will a nail, pop two holes through the cardboard so that you can use the holes to mark other doors.

Or if you prefer, you could remove your newly fitted door handle and note down the precise dimensions from the top and side edges where your holes are drilled and copy this across to other units. Just ensure your holes are precise and level and alway double check your measurements agains your door handles and use a spirit level and tape measure every time. Once you’ve fitted a few door handles, the process becomes much easier and quicker.

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow our guidelines, watch the excellent video below created by Wickes, for really helpful instructions on fitting kitchen wall cabinets.

How to fit a kitchen island

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 05/04/2018

Install a kitchen island yourself and transform the look of your home


Before proceeding, make sure your floors are correctly prepared, are flat and free of debris or imperfections that may cause the kitchen units to sit unevenly or insecurely. Loose or creaking floorboards should be appropriately repaired and all concrete floors should be levelled as necessary.

Also check that no electrical cables or pipes run directly below where you intend to place your kitchen island, as drilling is necessary to fix your units to the floor therefore, you want to ensure you eliminate the chances of drilling or piercing any cables or pipes below.

Tools Required

As with any DIY project, you will need the appropriate tools to get the best finish possible, For this job, you’ll need:

  • spirit level
  • G-clamps
  • electric drill and drill bits
  • electric screwdriver or Phillips screwdriver
  • duct tape
  • screws
  • L-brackets

Measuring Up

Assuming your kitchen base cabinets are fully assembled, work out the size and placement of your kitchen island in relation to the existing units. Most people like their island to sit adjacent to the kitchen units running along the longest wall, in a place that is convenient to the cooking and food preparation areas that offer plenty of room to move around. A gap of at least 1200mm is recommended on all sides to prevent the space between your units and the island being too cramped. Anything less and you might find your kitchen feels too small and awkward.

If however you’re confident that you have plenty of room to fit an island, then you are ready to get started.

Fitting the Island

Most kitchen islands are built using at least two kitchen base cabinets. You may use as many as you like to make your kitchen island as big as desired. But for the purpose of this tutorial, we will use just two units to keep things simple.

Firstly, place the two floor cabinets together where you want your kitchen island to be located. Then make sure they are level by placing a long spirit level across the top of the units and adjust the feet until you have them perfectly level where they stand. Once you’re satisfied they’re level, using a couple of G-clamps, clamp the two units to hold them firmly together so you can begin screwing them together as one permanent pairing.

To attach the two units together neatly, you can hide the screws by firstly removing the hinge plates. Once the hinge plate is removed, drill a pilot hold through one side of the unit to the other, ensuring you do not drill all the way through. Then attach the units together by inserting a screw and tighten with a Philips screwdriver. Reattach the hinge plate and then repeat this process with the other hinge plate.

It’s also recommended to attach the cabinets together towards the back as well to ensure strength and rigidity front to back. If suitable pre-drilled pilot holes do not already exist, drill a pilot hole at the back of the unit and attach a screw to hold the two units together. Your two units should now be firmly attached to each other.

Building the Outer Shell

Most kitchen islands have an outer shell to cover the back and side panels of the kitchen base units, giving them a professional finish. Usually, side panels and back panels are used to create a seamless, tidy finish.

Firstly, work out where you’ll attached your end panels to the floor by laying them out next to the cabinets. Then attach two L-shaped brackets to the base of the end panels, ensuring they are not positioned where they will be obstructed by the legs on the cabinet. Then rest your end panel into position where you want it fitted and attach it temporarily to the two kitchen base cabinets using a G-clamp. Repeat this process for the other side panel and then finally, place the back panel in between the two clamped side panels, ensuring all of the end panels have L-shaped brackets attached as necessary. Once you’re satisfied the panels are all neatly in position, grab some duct tape and stick them all together in place to prevent any movement.

Now, carefully slide your two kitchen base units away from the side and end panels, making sure not to knock or disturb them and put them out of the way for the time being. Now you should have access to screw your side and back panels to the floor through the previously attached L-brackets. It is recommended that each panel has at least two L-brackets attached to the floor for added strength and stability. The back panel however will most likely need at least four L-brackets screwed to the floor.

Finishing Up

Once your side panels are firmly affixed to the floor, carefully slide your two attached kitchen base cabinets back into the outer shell you have just attached to the floor and clamp together when in the correct position. Attach the cabinets to the rear of the shell, again using screws through L-brackets so that you create a single rigid frame.

To attach the cabinets to the side panels, drill pilot holes through the side of the kitchen cabinets from the inside, being careful not to drill all the way through. Then screw the cabinets to the side panel using screws.

Your kitchen island should now be in place ready to cut and attach the plinth as well as the doors, handles and kitchen worktop.

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow these instructions, then watch the excellent video below created by Wickes for really helpful instructions on fitting kitchen wall cabinets.

How to fit kitchen wall cabinets

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 06/03/2018

Install kitchen wall units yourself and get professional results every time


Before you begin, make sure the wall is appropriately prepared and is smooth, clean and free from imperfections that may hinder the wall cabinets from sitting flush to the wall. Any bumps or lumps could result in poor finishing and difficultly fitting each cabinet accurately and flush to each other.

Also check to see which type of wall you have. A masonry (brick based) wall can be drilled straight into with wall plugs and cabinets hung easily. If you have a stud wall, you may need to locate the position of each of the timber studs to screw in the appropriate fixings directly or alternatively, use drywall anchors designed to take the weight of wall cabinets into the plasterboard.

Finally before starting, it is strongly advised to check your walls in and around your planned fixing points for internal plumbing pipes and electrical wires. By using an electrical cable tracer, you can identify where sources of power are behind your walls and mark them before drilling. If you are unsure, always consult a qualified professional first. Only proceed with this instructional blog until you are fully satisfied you are safe to do so.

Tools Required

As with any DIY project, you will need the appropriate tools to get the best finish possible, For this task, you will need:

  • step ladder
  • spirit level
  • cable and pipe detector
  • electric drill and drill bits
  • electric screwdriver or Phillips screwdriver
  • safety glasses
  • wall plug (or anchors)
  • screws
  • tape measure
  • pencil

Marking Up

Assuming your kitchen cabinets are fully assembled and your base cabinets are already in place, you’re ready to get started. If you haven’t installed your base cabinets yet however, please fit them first.

When hanging wall cabinets, it is advised to start with a corner unit and work you way out. So firstly, using a tape measure and pencil mark, on the wall where you want your first cabinet to hang. Wall units usually hang between 450-500mm from the base cabinet worktop, so ensure you allow for sufficient room when deciding where to hang them.

If however you have any full height larder and tall units already installed, the top of that unit should determine how your remaining wall cabinets must hang as you will want the tops of the wall units to sit precisely flush with the top of the full-height larder unit. If you have a larder unit to install but haven’t already fitted it, you must fit this unit firstly before hanging any wall cabinets.

Once you know precisely where you want your wall cabinets to hang, mark horizontal lines for the top and bottom edges along the wall using a spirit level to ensure the lines are straight and level. Then mark vertical lines to clearly define where each wall cabinet will end. This will give you an accurate outline of where your units will sit and will make fitting far easier.

Fitting the Units

Firstly check the rear of the wall cabinet to see how they will hang onto the walls. Usually, there are hooks at either side at the top of cabinet’s back panel. These hook onto plates that are screwed to the walls.

Now, hold a hanging plate up to the rear hook and measure the distance from the top of the cabinet to the base of the hanging plate using a tape measure. Now do the same from the sides of the cabinet to the near edge of the plate, making a note of the measurements. Then mark these exact measurements on the wall in pencil, so you know exactly where the plates should sit on the wall to hang the cabinet.

Whilst holding the plate on the wall where you marked it’s position, mark the screw holes with a pencil. Now before you drill the marked holes, double check there’s no electrical cables or pipes behind the wall using your cable detector. Once you’re satisfied it’s safe to do so, put on your safety glasses and drill appropriate holes using an electric drill and correctly sized drill bit to suit the wall plugs.

Masonry walls will require a masonry drill bit whilst stud walls will require a wood drill bit.

Once drilled, pop appropriate wall plugs into the holes and screw the wall plates into place.

Attaching Cabinets

To attach the wall cabinets, simply lift into place ensuring the rear hooks sit onto the wall plates you just fitted. Start by lifting the unit above the hooks and slowly lower it until the hooks meet. If the cabinet is particularly big or heavy, ask a friend for help.

Now make sure the cabinet sits level by placing a small spirit level on the top of the unit. If your wall cabinet is slightly out, don’t worry. The adjuster blocks inside the back at the top of your cabinets allow you to adjust the cabinet using a Philips screwdriver. Just a few turns and you should be able to get the unit perfectly level!

Once your unit is level, it’s fitted and ready for use. Simply repeat the above instructions to fit the remaining wall cabinets.

Finishing Up

Once all of your wall units are in place, it may be a good idea to screw them to each other to ensure they sit tight and flush to each other. This will also add strength and make them more rigid.

To avoid showing exposed screw heads however, you will want to screw them together underneath the hinge plates. To do so, remove any existing hinge-plates from one of the adjacent wall cabinet. Then drill pilot holes at the top and bottom through to the adjacent cabinet and screw together using appropriately sized screws. Then reattach the hinge plates to conceal the screws you just used to attach the units together.

Repeat for all of the wall cabinets, ensuring their top and bottom edges all sit flush before screwing together.

Your kitchen wall cabinets are now fully installed and ready for use!

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow these instructions, then watch the excellent video below created by Wickes for really helpful instructions on fitting kitchen wall cabinets.

How to fit kitchen base cabinets

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 08/02/2018

Fit kitchen floor units yourself and get great results every time


Before you begin, make sure that your floor is even, level and free of dirt, dust and debris. Any material left could mean your kitchen base units do not sit firmly on the floor. Any movement will result in poor finishes and difficultly fitting the countertop correctly.

Most modern kitchen cabinets come with adjustable legs as standard, so if your floor is uneven, you will need to use a spirit level and the adjustable legs to make your units perfectly level. Some kitchen cabinets are built using timber plywood frames without legs. If that is the case, you may need to use shims to prop up appropriate corners of your units to make them level on uneven floors.

Also before proceeding, you may need to check your walls in and around your planned fixing points for internal wall pipes and electrical wires. An electrical cable tracer will find sources of power behind walls. If you are unsure, consult a local professional first. Only proceed with this instructional blog until you are fully satisfied you are safe to do so.

Tools Required

As with any DIY project, you will need the appropriate tools to get the best finish possible, For this task, you will need:

  • spirit level
  • spirit level
  • cable and pipe detectors
  • electric drill and drill bits
  • jigsaw or handsaw
  • circular saw
  • 2 x G-clamps
  • electric screwdriver or Phillips screwdriver
  • tape measure
  • pencil

Marking Up

Assuming your kitchen cabinets are fully assembled, and you have all the brackets and feet for each unit, you are ready to get started.

Firstly, you need to mark on the wall exactly where your cabinets will go. It is advised to start the process in one corner and work you way out.

In general, your floor units will sit around 870mm from the floor. With a tape measure, make a mark at 870mm from the floor and using a spirit level, draw a perfectly level horizontal line at 870mm from the floor along the length of the wall where you intend to fit your units. Note that this mark represents the top of the units and does not factor in the additional depth of the countertop to be fitted at a later date.

Now check the height from the floor to your line to ensure the distance does not fall below the 870mm mark. As floors can invariably be uneven, you need to carry this out to ensure your floor units will fit and not sit above that line. If they do, you may need to erase and redraw the line from a point where the floor sits higher. Once the line is correctly marked, you can start to install the units.

Fitting the Units

Starting form a corner, place the unit into its intended position so the back edge is resting against the wall with the pencil mark visible. If pipework is present or skirting board sits above the line of the back of the unit, you will have to cut an access gap on both sides of the cabinet. Simply mark where the pipework or skirting boards pass with a pencil and then remove the unit to allow you to cut the marked area with a jigsaw or handsaw.

Once your cuts are done, place the unit back into position to check it sits above the protruding pipework or skirting board. If so, ensure the unit is level from side-to-side and front-to-back; adjust the feet to the correct height to match the pencil line on the wall and place a spirit level on the top of the unit and adjust until it sits perfectly level. This unit should be fully in place.

Now place the next cabinet into position alongside your first corner unit. Again, check the height is correct using your mark on the wall. Adjust the unit height with the legs and use a spirit level as before. Make sure the heights of the two units sit flush with each other and then clamp adjacent units together with two G-clamps to prevent movement. One at the top, and the other clamp at the bottom.

Attaching Cabinets

To attach the cabinets together and avoid exposed screw-heads, remove any existing hinge-plates from one of the adjacent units. Then drill pilot holes at the top and bottom through to the adjacent cabinet and screw together using the correctly supplied screws. Now reattach the hinge plates to conceal the screws you just used to attach the units together. Now you have two attached units and no exposed screw-heads!

Now you need to attach the units to the facing wall. To do this, attach two L-shaped brackets to the rear left and right top edges of each unit. Then mark where they will be screwed into the wall with a pencil. Temporarily move the units away from the wall to give you enough room to check there are no concealed electrical cables in the wall (with a cable tracer) and then drill pilot holes where you made your marks. Insert appropriate wall plugs or drywall anchors and then move the attached units back into position and screw to the wall through the L-shaped brackets.

Now double check that the attached units are still level and flush to the marked line on the wall. If so, you can move onto the next cabinet and repeat the above processes until all of your floor units are correctly into position and attached accordingly.

Finishing Panels

Once all of your units are in place, you may need to think about fitting side panels to any exposed end units.

Most end panels are supplied larger than your units so you will need to marry up the end panel to you side units and cut off any excess to ensure it fits correctly, removing any overhanging edges that protrudes from the front and the top. Make sure to cut off the end opposite the side that needs to show the panel’s edge banding. For the best cuts, use a circular saw or jigsaw with an appropriate blade to give you clean, splint-free finish.

Remember, you may need to cut the panel around skirting or pipework. To get a flush fit, use a piece of the skirting as a template to get a precise outline of the shape to cut with a jigsaw. Any crude cuts will easily be visible and will make your kitchen look inferior, so always try to make these cuts as accurate as possible. Small gaps however, can be filled with decorators caulk or sealant.

Once your end panel is cut to shape, clamp it to the cabinet, remove the hinge plates, drill pilot holes (making sure not to drill all the way through to the end panel) and screw together with the supplied screws. Replace the hinge plate and finally, remove the clamps.

If you have any other end panels to fit, simply follow the same instructions above. Once completed, your base cabinets should now be fully installed.

See It in Action

If you are still unsure how to follow these instructions, then watch the excellent video below created by Wickes for really helpful instructions on fitting kitchen base cabinets.

How is Medium Density Fibreboard Made?

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 11/01/2018

MDF Composition

Medium density fibreboard is one of a number of engineered woods, a composite product comprised of material glued together. Popular composite products include plywood, block-board, particleboard, hardboard, laminated veneered timbers and MDF.

In most cases, these products are based on what are considered to be waste residues (excluding plywood), with only a small amount of material lost during manufacturing, making it an effective product at minimising unnecessary waste.

Lignocellulosic fibers are the core ingredient in MDF sheets which are bonded by synthetic resins under heat and intense pressure with additives added during the process to improve adhesion, strength and durability. During manufacturing, the material is compressed to a density of 0.50 - 0.80 specific gravity (495-800 kg/m3), to produce a material that is smooth and flat.

Typically sawdust, chipping and shavings from timber products make up the bulk of medium density fibreboard however, with recent concerns over environmental and ecological issues coming to the fore, it is not uncommon to find recycled waste paper, cardboard, corn silk and even some plastics and metals being used to make the material.

MDF is said to have been first invented in the United States of America, with production taking place during the 1960's.

Typical Applications

As medium density fibreboard can be cut into all sorts of intricate shapes and sizes, it has become a very popular product in items such as furniture, doors, panelling, packaging, toys, games, cabinetry and flooring.

Seeing the product is incredibly smooth, flat and free from imperfections such as knots or grains most commonly found in laminated timbers i.e plywoods, finishes are always clean and consistent. With a very uniform consistency throughout, cuts and edges can be intricate and precise when using machining tools so achieving intricate three-dimensional shapes is rarely a problem. This is why MDF is often found in furniture pieces with veneered surfaces, as the material is very adaptable and strong, being able to hold precise tolerances and accurate cuts - something many other materials cannot ever get close to. Cut wastage is also significantly reduced compared to other substrates.

How to Correctly Cut Plywood Sheets

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 13/12/2017

Get Splint Free Results with Our Plywood Cutting Guide

Plywood is a very popular material that is commonly used on a number of DIY and construction projects due to its low cost, versatility and reliability. This factory produced timber product  does not warp, shrink or crack with changes in atmospheric temperatures or moisture, making it ideal for many application.

It’s not uncommon to find plywood being used in products such as furniture, cabinets and tables as well ad used in common construction processes including flooring substrates and materials, formwork for concrete, partitioning and external walls. It’s even found in packaging such as shipping crates and boxes that require strength and durability.

However, if you intend to use plywood where it will be visible, getting clean cuts is vital to ensure you get a splint free finish and no rough edges. Here’s how to achieve clean cuts using plywood.

Accurate Measuring

Firstly, it’s important to ensure you have accurate measurements marked out on to the plywood to get clean joints and precise edges. When measuring, lay the plywood sheets on a level flat surface such as a floor or cutting table that will ensure the ply stays flat and does not bend.

Depending on the tools you intend to cut with will determine which side of the plywood to mark. For example, if using a table saw you should mark the unfinished side. Whilst if using a circular saw, jigsaw or handsaw, you should mark the finished side.

Now mark your measurements on the long edge of the ply using a pencil. Then mark the same measurement on the other side of the ply. Using a metal square to ensure an accurate 90º angle, draw a line joining the two marks you previously made using a ruler or straight edge as a guide. Repeat this process if you need to make other cuts.

Using a Table Saw

If you’re fortunate enough to own a table saw, cutting plywood is a breeze. Firstly, set the blade to be about 12-13mm higher than the thickness of the plywood sheets you want to cut.

Now before you start, make sure the surface of the table saw is completely clean of debris as this may cause bad cuts if the board moves or is misaligned during cutting. As you cut the plywood, you will produce a lot of sawdust. Although relatively harmless, always wear a suitable mask over your mouth and eyes to protect you from breathing in fine sawdust particles or getting them into your eyes.

When you’re ready to cut, switch on your table saw and feed the plywood gradually towards the blade in one smooth motion and continue until the entire board has been cut. If the sheet is large, have someone help take the other end to ensure the ply moves smoothly and does not bend. This should give you nice clean edges and little to no splintering.

Using a Jigsaw or Circular Saw

Before cutting the plywood, you’ll need to place it onto a suitable sawhorse or surface that will ensure the plywood stays flat, does not move and allows the blade to pass unobstructed from one edge to the other. You will also benefit from either clamping the sheet into place to prevent movement or having an extra pair of hands if the plywood sheet is large, as bending and distorting will cause splinters and inaccurate cuts.

When you’re ready to cut, line up the edge of the saw blade against the marking on the plywood and switch on the tool. If possible, start cutting alone the pencil marking and continue in one fluid motion until the entire sheet is cut with an assistant holding the ply to ensure it stays flat and does not move. If the sheet is too big to cut in one go, switch off the jigsaw or circular saw only when you have come to a complete stop and wait for the blade to stop oscillating or spinning completely before removing.

Now take the saw to the opposite end of the mark, begin cutting and continue until you reach the previous cut to finish cutting the whole sheet. It is important at this stage that help is at hand to hold the sheets and prevent them from dropping or falling once you have two cut pieces. Any movement will splinter wood and ruin the finish.

Using a Handsaw

If you do not have any electric tools, you can use a handsaw to cut plywood although it requires skill and strength.

The best finishes are always achieved if the cuts is completed in one motion. Although this requires a lot of energy and effort, this will achieve a better finish and less splintering. Only stop is you really have to.

Just like using a jigsaw or circular saw, you will need assistance to ensure the plywood is held firmly and does not move during cutting.

How to Correctly Cut Medium Density Fibreboard

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 13/11/2017

Get the Best Results with Our MDF Cutting Guide

MDF is a hugely popular material in the building industry due to it’s versatility and relatively low cost. Usually found in the construction of furniture pieces, shelving and cabinet carcasses, this man-made substance is relatively easy to cut and machine cleanly if you know how, using the correct tools for the job.

As it is essentially made from compressed recycled wood dust particles combined with resins, there’s no actual wood grain to be concerned about during cutting. However, even though it is a relatively tough material as whole, it can chip and break quite easily if the wrong cutting tools or blades are used as edges are brittle and at times, easily broken.

So if you plan to carry out a relatively big project that relies on a lot of MDF sheets, here’s our guide to cutting this popular material correctly.

Using a Table Saw

Firstly, ensure you are using a laminate blade when using a table saw and set the blade to be about 12-13mm higher than the thickness of the MDF sheets you intend to cut.

Make sure the surface of the table saw is completely clean before attempting any cuts as any debris present may cause a bad cut if the board moves or is misaligned.

As you cut the MDF sheet with a table saw, you will undoubtedly produce a lot of dust particles. MDF is know to contain unpleasant chemicals including urea formaldehyde which is regarded as a probable human carcinogen so before you start cutting, always place a suitable mask over your mouth and eye protection to prevent dust getting into your eyes.

When ready to cut, turn on your table saw and feed the MDF slowly towards the blade in one fluid motion and continue until the entire board has been cut. This should give you suitably clean edges and the best possible finish.

Using a Router

To get a good cut with a router, use a carbide flute bit. Do bare I mind however, when using a router that you should aim to cut the MDF fractionally larger than you need it to be. Then use the router to further trim to edges down to the correct size. To get the final straight edge, use a router table or jog for a perfect finish.

Using a Jigsaw or Circular Saw

Both of these saws can be used to cut MDF however, the surface of the medium density fibreboard must be scored prior to cutting if laminated.

Firstly, put the MDF onto a steady work surface or saw horse and clamp into place to prevent movement. Now, mark out your cut lines using a straight edge and a piece of chalk or pencil. Once you have a line drawn, take a utility or Stanley knife and run the knife along the cut line using minimal pressure at a steady to slow speed. Do this until you successfully cut through the laminated surface.

Now use a carbide blade with a TPI of at least 20 and cut the MDF with the laminae surface showing upwards and go nice and slowly and steadily until you have completely cut the entire sheet.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Using MDF

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 04/10/2017

Get to Know This Highly Versatile Product

MDF is a superb building product because it’s relatively inexpensive, is a great choice for woodworking, is fairly adaptable and can be used for a variety of applications. But getting the best results from MDF is down to understanding the product and avoiding common mistakes. In this article we’ll take you through a number of classic do’s and don’ts when it comes to using medium density fibreboard.

What is MDF?

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) is a man-made product consisting of fine wood particles compressed together under intense pressure combined with resins and heat. To many unsuspecting individuals, MDF is most likely to be in every modern home in some way or another without them knowing. It is very commonly found in kitchen units, cabinets, shelves, furniture and many other everyday items yet is rarely seen in its raw form as it tends to be covered with a more attractive laminate or wood veneer.

As mentioned above, it’s very versatile but it does have it’s weaknesses as well as it’s strengths and is not suitable for all applications. Use it right and you can get amazing results. Use it or abuse it incorrectly and it will let you down.

Do Use It To Save Costs

The best and most obvious advantage to using MDF is the price. Compared to plywood or other solid wood sheets, MDF is a far better economic option. If you need to cover large areas with a paintable flat surface such as wall panelling or an inbuilt shelving system or media centre for example, you can mix and match materials. Use MDF where a solid flat surface is needed and then use timber for edging and stiffening. Once the whole thing is painted, you’ll never see the difference between where the MDF starts or where the wood trims begin.

If you plan to make something that requires a large amount of flat wood panels, save yourself a few pennies by substituting plywood or particleboard for MDF, which is just a good and will give a great finish.

Don’t Cut It Without a Mask

Cutting and milling MDF produces a lot of dust and fine particles which contains high levels of urea-formaldehyde due to the adhesive resins contained within the material. Wearing a mask is highly advised as the dust particles produced contain formaldehyde which is a know carcinogen.

If possible, always cut MDF in a well ventilated area and wear suitable masks to cover both your nose and mouth, as well as your eyes. The fine powdery dust produced from cutting MDF is very unpleasant and can cause asthma and other respiratory issues if inhaled. Get it in to your eyes and it can be very uncomfortable and itchy.

As well as protecting yourself, make sure you cover all necessary areas of your home from dust particles. MDF dust is very light and fine, so travels easily. Any cutting indoors will swiftly lead to dust spreading and settling throughout your home.

Do Drill Pilot Holes

It is not recommended that you use an electric screwdriver or impact driver with MDF without drilling a pilot hole and countersinking drill bit first, as any intense pressure or force will make it crumble and deteriorate. MDF appears as a solid, firm material on the surface but its compound is actually quite soft and flaky. It doesn’t take a great deal of pressure to cause it to split or break up, and when it does there’s no going back.

So avoid using nails and a hammer as any mishaps will most likely cause the surface to split and break up. And most certainly do not drop it as any heavy impact will destroy exposed edges.

Don’t Lift Large Sheets Alone

MDF might be an innocent looking material but it is deceptively heavy and a full sized sheet can weigh up to 100 lbs. Lugging one of those around can easily cause sprains, aches and pains so if you have an extra pair of hands, get help lifting them otherwise, opt for smaller manageable sheets to avoid injury.

Do Use a Primer

MDF is a superb material for painting but to get the very best results, always use a suitable primer first. The tops tend to always be nice and smooth but cut edges can look a little rough however if you prime it, then sand it and then prime it again, those rough edges can be made to look far better.

Then once fully primed, you are ready to paint it any colour you wish and you should get a far better, more even looking finish. The primer will act as a bond so that you get a consistent colour finish every time you paint.

Don’t Use It Outside

Never ever use MDF on projects that are intended to stay outdoors - it is simply not designed to be used in any wet weather. Even with priming and lots of waterproof painting, MDF will eventually lose the battle of the elements and deteriorate fast. Any water that gets near it will be absorbed like a sponge, leading to the MDF material swelling and eventually breaking up.

There are moisture resistant versions of MDF available on the market but overall, any project that requires a high level of water resistance should really be using a suitably treated timber or alternative product that is proven to deal with water far better.

What’s the Difference Between MDF & Particle Board?

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 15/09/2017

Understanding these popular wood products and their practical uses

To the unwitting public, many do not realise the fundamental differences between particle board and medium density fibreboard, with many believing they are one and the same thing. This is not the case.

Particleboard is a relatively cheap product which is composed of wasted wood chipping which are compressed and bound using a compound of resins and sawdust along with a lot of heat and pressure. MDF, a more denser product, tends to be more expensive is composed of tiny wooden fibres as opposed to dust but it again, combined using resins and pressurised heat.

In most cases, furniture that is made from MDF is considered to be superior in quality and strength compared to particle board.

What is Particleboard?

Particleboard tends to be used on jobs that do not require a high end durable material and can be commonly found in cheaper furniture products, as well as used in building projects such as flooring substrates and underlays, panelling on fibreglass roofs and temporary partitioning. It’s considered to be a throw away material that has good temporary uses on building projects but seldom is applied for too many permanent structures.

It’s a fairly easy material to work with in terms of cutting and milling but due to it’s structure, tends to tear or chip frequently as pieces of wood chipping start to break away under pressure. Rarely does particleboard get used as a visually exposed face as it is not a great looking product and will often be veneered with a thin laminate to make it appear much more higher end.

It is best used flat as when put under any pressure such as bending or moulding, it breaks, snaps and tears easily.

What is Medium Density Fibreboard?

MDF as it is more commonly known, can be found is many mass produced furniture pieces such as cabinets, shelving and even kitchen units and doors. It’s a strong material that is far easier to mill than particleboard because it is les prone to chipping and tearing. It can be shaped and moulded to a degree and tends to work well for projects requiring routing complicated and elaborate shapes.

Much like particleboard, MDF does tend to be veneered with a laminate on furniture pieces as the material isn’t aesthetically pleasing to look at, so veneers give it a high end finish. it also tends to take to being painted far better than particleboard as well as being far stronger under pressure. It is however not a great material to be used in damp conditions and like particleboard, will deteriorate fast is exposed to moisture of water for too long.

Why the quality of your kitchen carcasses is important

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 09/08/2017

Determining which kitchen units are made to last

When shopping for a kitchen, seldom do buyers consider the quality and construction of the actual kitchen carcass they come with. In most cases the doors, the colour and the finish is what either makes or breaks a sale yet the carcass is the item that will need to take the brunt of the pressure when it comes to daily use and abuse.

Of course, the quality and manufacturing process of the doors is important but in overall structural terms, they have very little influence. The materials, construction style and strength of the kitchen carcasses is what really matters to the quality of the final product and its longevity, not to mention taking the weight of the worktop and built-in appliances. They need to last!

A strong back makes for a strong unit

In most cases, kitchen carcasses made in the UK are formed of 18mm chipboard with PVC coating and edge banding, where the strength of the units is focuses on the back section. Here is where you can reveal the good from the bad as the strength and quality of the back panels can vary greatly. On certain cheaper units, they are backed with a thin 3mm or 6mm hardboard which is not considered to be a rigid material at all. Flimsy at best.

Over time, if a lot of weight and pressure is applied to carcasses with thin back panels, they will start to bow and sag or worse, the back panels will pop out of place completely making the carcasses useless. The issue is, you may not even see this occurring as the back panels are frequently out of sight so by the time the inevitable break down has occurred, it’s probably too late.

If possible, shop for kitchen carcasses that have rigid back panels of at least 18mm in thickness or sectional panels in 18mm that will take the brunt of the weight and be able to last many years. You could save yourself a lot of worry and longer term, won’t have to concern yourself with the messy job of replacing individual carcasses that may not have lasted as well as the others.

Thick edging means longer protection

Another sure fire way to determine the quality of a good kitchen carcass from a bad one is the edge banding thickness.

Many mass produced carcasses from well-known DIY stores and even big brand kitchen retailers are commonly sold with a thin iron-on type melamine edging which is very prone to peeling, cracking and snapping. The edging isn’t just there to make the units look good. They have a very important role to play in protecting the carcass edges from damage from persistent use and abuse. Doors and drawers are constantly opened and closed so a cheap edge band will start to crack under the strains of slamming and constant closing of doors.

A good quality unit should have edge banding of at least 0.4mm to 2mm in thickness and be made of PVC or ABS, not melamine.

So if you are considering a brand new kitchen or even a simple kitchen facelift by replacing the carcasses, do not necessarily shop around for the most economical option. Chances are, it will be cheaply made and will start to deteriorate quickly after installation. As the saying goes, you only get what you pay for so if you’re investing in a new kitchen, a few extra pennies on quality is an investment well made.

The 7 Most Common Kitchen Design Layouts

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 10/07/2017

Deciding on a Kitchen Plan & Making It Work

When installing a brand new kitchen, the layout is by far the most important design aspect before you even choose a single cabinet style, colour or finish. How that overall shape and plan lies will determine a whole range of factors such as usability, convenience, space and aesthetic appeal.

Nowadays, there’s all sorts of trends or unique designs features that have grown in popularity however, in many circumstances, these choices are not always practical. The shape and scale of your kitchen will ultimately determine which type of design you can realistically aim towards and how to successfully achieve it.

Let’s take a look at the most common kitchen layouts and then you can decide which will work best in your kitchen based on the dimensions and shape of your existing space.

Single-Walled Kitchen

Typically found in smaller homes with narrows rooms, the single walled kitchen is actually growing in popularity in larger homes too as it keeps all the appliances, workspaces and stored items within easy reach. No matter the size of the room, this layout instantly creates a very open concept and creates useable space for other essentials such as dining tables or even a portable island or preparation console table.

The single walled kitchen does have its pitfalls however. Naturally, every kitchen needs to find a home for the oven, cooktop, sink and refrigerator. With all four of these must-haves sat along one wall, it does become quickly apparent that countertop space will be limited. So if a single walled kitchen is your only option, you may have to opt for an integrated range cooker instead and even a smaller refrigerator to allow for more storage and worktop space.

Galley Kitchen

Much like the single-walled kitchen, the galley also lends itself to the narrower, smaller spaced kitchen where walkways are tight and the dimensions are squeezed.

What the gallery has over the single wall of course is the opportunity to create separation of work areas such as food preparation and cleaning and far more countertop space. The downside is galleys can feel quite claustrophobic if the walkways between to the two sides are tight so having more than one or two people preparing and cooking meals in a galley is never a comfortable place to be.

If you’re quite cheffy though, galley kitchens are great as it means everything you need is within arms reach so preparing and cooking food is always a pleasure. It is most certainly a layout designed to please one primary cook in the house but avoid if you like to work in teams.

U-Shaped Kitchen

Like the single-walled or galley, U-shaped kitchen layouts are ideally suited to a single cook who likes to have everything at arms length.

What is great about a U-shaped kitchen is there’s no walkway to encourage people to pass through the area so the chef in the house will not have passers by interfering in the workspace and they can just get on and do their thing. The downside is the obvious lack of space for anything else so you can forget about including any tables, chairs or islands in the kitchen.

U-shaped kitchens are also poorly designed for those who like to entertain. In most cases, the person cooking will have their back to the room so it can feel quite enclosed and unwelcoming to guests. If the room is also small, a U-shape can quickly start to dominate the space and make the room feel incredibly tight.

G-Shaped Kitchen

The G-Shaped kitchen is essentially an upgrade of the U-shape with an added peninsula island to add practicality and extra workspace.

If room allows, this added little bonus can really make the difference to a U-shaped kitchen as it creates an island that can be somewhere to entertain, eat meals and prepare food. What you must avoid of course is making it into a nuisance object that gets in the way of accessing the kitchen easily so there’s a balance to strike - too large and it will block the entrance to the kitchen. Too small and it won’t be big or practical enough to use for eating or cooking.

L-Shaped Kitchen

The classic corner kitchen is mostly found in apartments or kitchens that lack a room long enough to house a single walled kitchen.

With more and more people living in apartments, the corner L-shaped kitchen is becoming far more commonplace as it is the sole kitchen design layout that encroaches on the least amount of space. With all the units tucked into the corners, it feels openly inviting but much like the U-shaped kitchen, entertaining is not ideal when the cook has their back to the guests.

What it does allow however is for the addition of a small table and chair for dining or if budgets and space allows, an island which will take it to a whole new level.

L-Shape with Island Kitchen

Take a look online for photos of kitchens with islands and the likelihood is you’ll find plenty of L-shaped kitchens with islands, and it’s no great surprise.

This simple design configuration fits comfortably into most room dimensions and ticks all the right boxes. Firstly, it creates distinct zones to the kitchen meaning one wall is for cooking, one for cleaning and the island is for serving up food and entertaining. For the chef in the house, there’s easy reach to get all the necessary items from cupboards and larders, so cooking is a pleasure. And in terms of space, it doesn’t take up huge amounts yet makes the entire kitchen area feel roomy and sophisticated.

As a bonus, the island gives the homeowner the choice of installing the cooktop of the sink here if desired; otherwise they can just keep the worktop and use it for preparing meals, eating and hanging out with friends.

Wrap-Around with Island

If room allows, the wrap-around kitchen with island is like having the best of all worlds. The main kitchen area will feel like a halfway house between an open-plan single-walled kitchen and a U-shape without the closeness, meaning everything is within easy reach. With the added bonus of the island, you have the perfect addition for preparing food, dining, entertaining and cleaning up.

This design most certainly encourages interaction so entertaining and hosting dinner parties will be a pleasure, making your kitchen the main hub of the home. With it’s slightly unusual shape, it also prevents the kitchen from feeling boxy and will make the space seem more quirky and unique.

The only downside is room - you’ll need lots of it if you plan to install a kitchen of this configuration. But if you do, it could be the best kitchen design decision you ever make!

Custom Made Kitchen Cupboards vs Stock Cabinets

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 15/06/2017

Advantages & Disadvantages of Each Type of Kitchen Base Unit

Whether you’re new to kitchen remodelling or a seasoned interior designer, it’s common knowledge that designing and fitting a brand new kitchen is a challenge to get right and can be a stressful and painstaking process.

It’s not just about the style, colour and finish. Nowadays, we want our kitchens to be as functional and as practical as possible. That means utilising the maximum amount of available space whilst ensuring the area feels spacious and a great place to hang out. We spend a great deal of time in the kitchen preparing food, socialising and dining so it’s no wonder we want to get it right first time and ensure we’ve ticked every box on our wish list.

Nowadays, there’s a whole plethora of kitchen options on the marketplace. From standard stock units at your local DIY store, to higher end specialist kitchen retailers, to kitchen makeover specialists and now, custom cabinet makers who offer completely bespoke units to fit every nook and cranny imaginable.

So with so much choice on offer, which way do you go? Here’s our run down of the pro’s and cons of using either stock or customer made kitchen cabinets. Then perhaps you will know which way you’ll want to go with your new kitchen project.

Shape & Size

With stock cabinets, you are pretty much restricted to using the standard sizes available by the manufacturer. If for example, you live in an older property, odd shaped walls, ceilings and corners are the norm. In such circumstances, you could find with stock cabinets that your kitchen could end up with a lot of unused dead space that custom cabinets could utilise and give you that all essential extra storage.

You’ll be amazed just how much potential extra space a small corner or angled ceiling has. By using custom made cabinets, not a single inch will go to waste.


As they say, everything is in the detail and nothing can be truer said than for kitchen designs. Some stock cabinets, especially those bought from your local DIY store are bulk manufactured and tend to be at the cheaper end of the scale. The edging is thin, poorly made and after a short period will peel way and crack.

On higher end custom made cabinets, the edging tends to be thicker or more hardwearing so you’re new kitchen will look much nicer for longer.

Stock cabinets also tend to also have a much cheaper finish. The classic white melamine coating is the standard across many ranges and there’s very little other choice for most. With custom cabinetry, you can opt to have practically any finish and colour, even to the insides of your kitchen base units which is a very rare thing in over-the-counter kitchen cabinets.


It’s fair to say that you get what you pay for and the same rule applies to kitchen base units.

You may be happy to pay for the lower end units seeing most of the time, the doors and drawer fronts will cover up the look and finish of the kitchen carcasses but over time, the quality and the cheaper price tag will start to show. As you remove and replace heavy items like pots, pans, oven dishes and utensils, marks will start to show and the finish will degrade quickly.

Custom kitchen carcasses may cost more but the materials used tend to be better quality and can resist the wear and tear of regular use far better than stock made DIY store cabinets.


The choice is essentially down to personal preference, your demands and your budget.

If you own a home that has a challenging shaped kitchen, in a character property that demands a kitchen to give it the wow factor, customer kitchen carcasses is your must-have route to a successful end product. If however, your kitchen demands are to simply replace it with something simple, in a space that is easy to work with and your budget is restricted, there’s no shame in going down the stock cabinet route and getting something practical and functional.

Understanding the different types of plywood and their uses

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 10/05/2017

When and how to use this versatile timber product

Enter into any recently constructed building project and chances are, you’re never too far away from some form of plywood, whether visible or most likely hidden from view. As an incredibly popular material, plywood tends to be used in construction not only because it is cost effective, but it is also extremely versatile, strong and reliable.

In essence, plywood is a simple engineered product consisting on several thin sheets of timber, glued in layers at 90º angles to the corresponding layer above and below and compressed together at high pressure. This forms a strong, hardwearing material than can stand the test of time and be used is many projects that demand strength and durability.

Because it is so versatile, plywood can be found used in various items including furniture, flooring, partitions, external walls and roofs. Even in some high end cabinetry.

Key properties of plywood

Plywood has a number of core properties that make it unique to any other building material including:


Due to its layered construction, plywood tends to be far stronger than traditional timber. The simple engineering process of glueing thin layers of alternating grains prevents the board from snapping or breaking under pressure. The general rule of thumb ism, the thicker the ply, the stringer it is.

Stress Resistance

Engineered plywood is capable of withstanding much heavier weight and pressure that an equivalent sheet of standard timber and thus, can handle greater stress. A heavy object placed onto a single sheet of timber would lead to bending and eventual breakage whilst plywood would spread the load over a larger surface due to it’s layered construction, with the grain direction alternating at each layer.


Plywood is also very flexible and bendy if needed as it can be constructed at pretty much any given thickness, from a few millimetres to several centimetres thick. That is why thin plywoods tend to be used on demanding projects that require a curved surface such as ambitious internal wall projects or skateboard ramps that were made famous during the 1980’s.

Moisture Resistance

In certain plywoods, the glue used to construct the layers is water repellant so even if used externally where moisture and humidity levels fluctuate, it will not warp, expand, shrink or delaminate. This makes it the ideal material for outdoors projects where it needs to last for several years.


Not many people realise that plywood has the added benefit of being a very good insulator and soundproofing material. The layers naturally make it a good thermal product so if used correctly, is a great way to reduce heating bills and noise pollution from room to room.

How many types of plywood are there?

There’s a variety of different types of plywood for different applications including:

Softwood Ply

The most common manufactured plywood, that comes in a variety of thickness is often used on construction projects.

Hardwood Ply

More commonly used for more hardwearing projects that demand longevity, and constructed from stronger timbers, hardwood ply is ideal for more demanding jobs.

Flexible Ply

Usually constructed from just a few plies, these boards offer greater flexibility for projects that require curved surfaces.

Marine Ply

As the name suggests, this ply is used on marine-based applications due to its water resistant properties.

Aircraft Ply

To add greater heat resistance properties, this ply is constructed from birch.

Decorative Ply

Used where the wood grain will be on show, this ply tends to be made from beautiful woods including oak and rosewood to construct furniture and bespoke finishes.

Easy DIY Projects: How to create storage space by boarding your loft

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 28/03/2017

The Simple Cost Effective Home Storage Solution

Storage is always a problem no matter what size home you live in. There’s never enough space to store all the clutter and items you simply refuse to part with.

In most cases, your loft provides the perfect opportunity to create useful storage space that is easily accessible, dry and cost effective, meaning you can store away items out of sight and get access to them only on the odd occasions when they’re really needed.

The great thing about boarding your loft as it does not usually require planning consent and for even the most basic of DIYers, it’s a fairly easy task to undertake. Here’s how to board your loft using standard MDF loft boards or alternatively, 18mm plywood sheets.

Loft Access

Before you even lay a single board, you firstly need to ensure you have adequate loft access to bring the required boards up into the space. Most loft hatches are fairly tight so measure the widest point across the diagonal length of the opening and ensure any boards you buy or not wider than this width.

Standard loft boards usually measure between 320mm to 600mm in width, so choose only those that will fit through the hatch.

Measuring the Floor Space

Next you need to work out the floor space you want to cover with boards. In most cases, it’s not practical to board the entire loft space, especially under the eaves as the roof pitch makes the space practically unusual for storing items, let alone walking.

So measure just the areas you feel will be used for either walking on or storing items that you need to gain access to. Then simply measure the length and multiply that by the width, giving you your square meter coverage requirements.

Now all you need to do is shop for an adequate amount of boards to cover that area. Remember to overcompensate to cater for cutting odd pieces that may use partial boards and create wastage.

Ways of Boarding

There are two ways to traditionally board a loft.

In the past, most home DIYers would attach loft boards directly onto the roof joists, covering up the loft insulation. Nowadays, this is not recommended as this places strain on the joists but also, compresses your roof insulation, making it far less effective.

There are no rules or regulations to suggest you cannot take this approach if this is your preferred route however, most experts now agree this is not the ideal solution.

Instead, most agree that using loft legs is better as this allows for ample room above the loft insulation and creates a sturdy raised base onto which you can build your loft floor. It also means that access to electrical cables and pipework is far easier for contractors if the need arises.

Installing Loft Legs

Most loft legs are very easy to attach to the existing roof joists. Simply roll back any insulation between the joists temporarily and screw the legs directly into the timber using 30mm screws and space them 400mm apart in either direction, ensuring they are accurately spaced. This will ensure your loft boards sit exactly as they were intended on the legs and will give you a perfect sturdy finish.

Installing the Loft Panels

Start at one corner and lay your loft panels directly on top of the loft legs at 90 degree angles to the direction of the ceiling joists. Then when in place and laid square, attach them to the loft legs using the same 30mm screws.

Lay them in rows going across the width of the roof first and then move onto the next row as you go.

Safety First

Remember, when laying loft panels, always ensure you only step onto the existing roof joists and the rest of the roof will not take your weight.

Always wear gloves as roof joists are unfinished timbers with splinters and wear safety glasses when cutting, drilling or nailing boards to the loft joists. If in doubt, ask for help as roof spaces can be very tight so cutting and placing boards is much easier with a spare pair of hands.

7 Common Practical Uses for Plywood

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 13/03/2017

What is plywood and how is it made?

Plywood is an engineered timber product made from layers (or plies) of thin sheets of wood veneers, which are glued together under pressure at high temperature to form a thicker, stronger and more flexible flat sheet.

The logs used to make each sheet are prepared by steaming or dipping into hot water and are then fed into a lathe, which peels the log into the thin plies of around 1mm - 4mm thick, which are used to form each layer of each sheet.

It’s a widely used building material due to its many useful properties as well as its economical cost.

High quality plywood tends to be very strong and does not warp or crack under changes in atmospheric moisture, thus making it a reliable material for a wide variety of applications.

How this versatile timber material can be used for various applications

Plywood is widely manufactured as a softwood and hardwood, and come available in various grades of finish, depending on its intended use.

Here’s just a few examples of how plywood is used and why it is such an excellent choice of material for such uses:

1. Exterior Wall Sheathing

Common wall construction on new homes, especially in North America consist of a 2 foot x 4 foot or 2 foot by 6 foot frame skinned in exterior-grade plywood sheathing.

Plywood panels are used to fastened to each stud together to add strength and prevent vertical or horizontal shifting, keeping the frames structure intact and square.

This technique forms a structure that performs well under high wind and during earthquakes due to its flexible properties.

2. Interior Walls

Certain types of plywood are good for wood paneling or framing interior stud walls.

In most cases, the plywood will not be visible for the final finish however, some highly finished A-graded plywoods are very good for facing inwards and can painted or stained to give a stunning natural wood finish.

3. Roofing and Flooring

Plywood is commonly used to sheath roofs and as a subfloor on many internal flooring projects.

On floors, plywood panels may include tongue-and-groove edges that slot together to allow them to carry the required load without shifting or movement whilst on roofs, they can act as a very durable and suitable skin prior to laying tiles, metal or a membrane.

Plywood is excellent for both applications.

4. Other Construction

It’s not uncommon to find eaves and soffits covered with a plywood skin or made completely from ply.

Some plywoods are made specifically for use as a siding product to appear similar to reverse board and batten siding.

Builder contractors also commonly use plywood for constructing detached garages and sheds, for temporary floors and concrete forms.

5. Furniture

Plywood can be a very practical and cost effective material for building furniture.

In situations where one side needs to to look nice, a high grade plywood can be used whilst for the rest of the structure, a lower grade finish is fine.

Plywood is suitable for almost any furniture project imaginable within reason, so it’s not uncommon to find it used in custom built dressers, wardrobes, built in media centres, shelves, bookcases, console tables… in fact, the list is practically endless!

6. Cabinets

Plywood is great for making cabinet carcasses for kitchens, bedrooms and more.

A good quality plywood is more than suitable for use on backs and sides of cabinets in most cases and is a far superior material to traditional chipboard or MDF as it lasts longer, doesn’t split and is far more durable.

7. General Projects

Due to its versatility, plywood is great for many other home projects from building skateboard ramps, to rabbit hutches to doghouses.

Home DIYers love plywood as it is ideal for building useful items including workbenches, sawhorses, simple step-stools and storage bins.

In fact, we’ve published a few easy DIY projects of our own using plywood sheets.

Why not check some of them out and see just a handful of the many practical ways you can use plywood in and around the home?

It’s a great product and is available in a wide range of thicknesses and grades, ranging from exterior with exposure to moisture to interior dry application.

It always produces an excellent, strong finish and doesn’t cost the earth.

Easy DIY Projects: How to build a Plywood or MDF Workbench

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 10/02/2017

A simple step-by-step guide to making a great utility unit

If you ask DIYer’s what they need most in their home projects and construction arsenal, many will tell you a simple workbench would make a great addition. A workbench is useful for simple jobs, from clamping and cutting fiddly items to having somewhere to lay strips of timbers or metal for hand-sawing, not to mention the added bonus of some open shelved storage for smaller items. A retail workbench can be quite costly and bulky to store. However, with just one sheet of good quality 18-24mm plywood or MDF, its pretty easy to make a compact workbench that can sit proudly in the corner of your garage or toolshed and not get in the way.

This basic project is the perfect way to solve your cutting headaches if you need a permanent place to attach a steel clamp or simply cut strips of timber. Any novice DIY enthusiast should be able to make this with minimal hassle. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get building!


Firstly, you'll need a full 2440 x 1220mm (8" x 4") sheet of 18mm-24mm deep plywood or MDF. Either will work however, plywood is the preferred option as it tends to be stronger and will hold together better, not to mention resist moisture for longer, assuming the workbench will be installed somewhere outside in a shed or garage.

You'll also need 6 plastic or stainless steel corner brackets, a box of 1" self-tapping wood screws, a circular saw (or hand saw), a jigsaw, an electric drill and a 2mm wood drill bit.

Cutting List

Firstly, let’s cut out all the pieces you’ll need to make your workbench. Most of the shapes use straight edges, so there’s little in the way of complicated cutting, making this project pretty straightforward!

By following Figure 2 as shown, you will need to cut two pieces for the bench’s sides labelled (A) measuring 812mm long by 368mm wide. To prevent the workbench from rocking on the floor once built, it is recommended that you also cut out circular shapes at one end of each of our two pieces to create feet. The best way to do this is to grab a large round pot of paint and use the pot’s circular shape as a template to draw nice, exact circles with a pencil and then cut them out using a jigsaw. Simple and guaranteed to give you a good finish.

Next, you will want to cut the largest piece labelled (B) which is your bench’s back panel, measuring 1117mm long by 812mm wide. Now cut your (C) piece, which is the bench’s middle horizontal shelf at the same length as the (B) panel, measuring 1117mm long by 368mm wide.

We’re nearly done. All that is left is the penultimate piece to cut which is the workbench top, labelled (D). Cut that at 1270mm long by 432mm deep. And finally, the smallest piece which is the bench’s all-essential centre vertical shelf support to add strength labelled (E), should be cut at 362mm long by 381mm deep.

And that’s all the cutting done!

The Build

Before piecing together, make sure you are working on a firm level surface, otherwise your finished bench may not be square when constructed.

To save hassle later, it is advised to firstly attach your L-brackets to both (A) panels and the centre (E) shelf support. You will need to attached them to the shorter ends of each piece. Simply lay each panel flat on the floor and then whilst holding a bracket in position, mark with a pencil where you want to attach each bracket. 50mm from the edge is a good distance. Then using your drill, drill pilot holes for each bracket and then attach all your brackets to the panels with a screwdriver or electric drill. Now we can start to put the bench together.

Firstly, take panel (C) and measure halfway along the long length and make a mark at 558mm. Do the same along the other edge and then draw a pencil line. The line should be exactly square to both edges. Now measure 100mm in from the line’s edge and mark a visible dot (or X) ready for drilling. Do the same from the other edge, leaving with you two marks and then drill two pilot holes right the way through the panel. This will make it easier for you to attach shelf panel (C) to the support panel (E).

Next grab your support panel (E) and attach the edge (without the L-brackets) to the middle of panel (C) using two wood screws through the pilot holes you just drilled to form a T-shaped piece.

Now take one of your (A) side panels and measure 390mm from the top edge where your L-brackets sit. Do the same along both edges and draw a horizontal pencil line where to two marks meet. Again like the (C) piece, measure 100mm in from either edge of the drawn line, make two pencil X marks and drill two pilot holes into the panel right the way through using your marks. Once done, do exactly the same with the other (A) panel then attach both at either end to the short edge of the (C) panel (now attached to the E panel as a T-shape) using wood screws. You should now have a basic H-frame that may be a little wobbly so be careful when moving the frame.

To make the frame more rigid, let’s now attached the back panel. Carefully lay your constructed frame onto it’s front facing edge so that the back edge is facing upwards. Now lay the back panel labelled (B) in place and manoeuvre it into the correct position, ensuring it fits square and snug. Once in position, attach it to the frame by drilling and attaching wood screws from the edges at both end of your (A) panels. To make the frame extra sturdy, measure halfway along the width of the (B) panel to 558mm and draw a perfectly square pencil line. Use that line as a guide to drill and screw the back panel (B) to the support (E). Once attached, your frame should feel much more solid.

For extra rigidity, you could also drill screws through the back panel (B) into the (C) panel shelf as well. If so, your frame will be super-sturdy!

Finally, your workbench needs a top! So now lay your constructed frame on its back and then place the top panel (D) in place and attach it to the frame by screwing through the L-brackets you attached earlier. That’s it, your workbench is built.

All you have to do now, is turn it to the correct upright position and place it somewhere where you can use it for all your cutting and clamping jobs.


If your workbench has any rough edges from cutting, grabs some course sandpaper and give the edges a good rub down. This will remove any sharp corners or splinters which can cut your hands. To make your bench more weather proof, you could either stain it with some good quality wood varnish or paint it with hard wearing exterior wood paint.

Now you have the perfect compact workbench and all it cost was a single sheet or plywood or MDF, some brackets and screws. It’s as easy as that!

Easy DIY Projects: How to build a Portable Cutoff Bin

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 18/01/2017

A simple step-by-step guide to making a great storage unit for wood cut offs

Most DIY enthusiasts who regularly make home projects or repairs will start to build a collection of timber cut offs and pieces that they are loathed to part with. Wood is expensive and there’s always a small job that may require just a tiny piece of timber to complete it, so why throw away cut offs when they can be so useful? A pile of loose wood cut offs can start to clutter up a corner of your shed or garage and this becomes a nuisance, not to mention messy. So why not build a simple, portable cut off bin to store them all?

This simple home project is the perfect answer to organising your timber pieces and takes just minimal materials and time to complete. Any novice DIY enthusiast should be able to make this with little difficulty. So let's get started and find out how you can make your own portal timber bin in under one hour!


Firstly, you'll need a full 2440 x 1220mm (8" x 4") sheet of 18mm deep plywood or MDF. Either is good however, plywood is the better option as it tends to be stronger and will hold together better, not to mention resist moisture for longer, assuming it will be stored outside in your shed or garage)

You'll also need 4 casters (wheels) to make your bin portable, 4 corner L-brackets (or similar), a box of 1" self-tapping wood screws, a circular saw (or hand saw), an electric drill and 2mm wood drill bit.

Cutting List

Firstly, let’s cut out all the pieces you’ll need to make your bin. All of the shapes use straight edges, so there’s no complicated cutting involved, making this project really easy!

By following Figure 2 as shown, you will need to cut three pieces for the bin’s 2 sides and centre panel labelled (D) measuring 794mm long by 394mm wide. To achieve the angles on these panels, measure and mark your cut piece with a pencil at 152mm from the edge along the short side and then mark 375mm from the edge along the long side. Then using a long straight piece of timber or ruler, draw a diagonal line connecting the two marks you have just made. Then with a hand saw (or electric saw) cut along the line to complete your first piece.

Give is a light sanding to remove any rough edges or splinters and then use this piece as a template to mark out and cut two further pieces at exactly the same size. Once done, you should now have three "D" panels.

Next cut 2 pieces measuring 812mm long by 394mm wide, which will be used as both your "A" and "C" panels which have exactly the same dimensions. One will be used as the bin’s front panel whilst the other will be the base panel.

Next, cut your "B" piece, which will be your bin’s back panel at 812mm long by 812mm wide. This piece should be square, with the length and width being exactly the same dimensions.

Finally, cut your two "E" pieces to 590mm long by 378mm wide. These are your bins dividers, giving your bin a total of four compartments to organise various different sizes and types of timbers.

The Build

First off, make sure you are working on a suitable hard flat surface, otherwise your finished piece may not be square when constructed. Once ready, we’ll tackle attaching the three "D" panels to the base panel "C". You may need some assistance from another person to tackle this first stage so grab and extra pair of hands!

The easiest way to attach the panels is to firstly measure exactly halfway along the length of the base panel (C) and draw a pencil line marking the centre. Then along the pencil line, mark two holes at 50mm from either edge and drill two pilot holes right through the base panel.

Now, with the "C" panel sat upright on its edge (being held by your friend), marry it up to one of your "D" panels to create a T-shaped formation and screw your base panel "C" into the edge of the centre divider panel "D" with two 1" wood screws. Now do exactly the same with the remaining two "D" pieces. Drill pilot holes at the ends of the "C" panel and then screw your remaining two "D" side panels to the base, to form a W shape.

Next, carefully turn your constructed frame to the correct upright position and marry up your back panel "B" to your frame so that it touches the rear edges of both the three "E" panels and the base "C" panel. With your helper holding them in place, drill pilot holes along the four touching edges and then screw the back plate to your frame using 1" wood screws through the pilot holes. Once done, your frame should be sturdy and solid and your helper can now go take a break!

We’re close to finishing but firstly, we need to get your divider panels (E) ready. With a tape measure, mark 50mm from the end of the long edge at both ends on just one side of both panels. These marks will tell us approximately how far down our divider panels we want to attach our L-brackets which need to be attached now.

So, once you have your two marks in place on both "E" panels, place an L-bracket up to the edge and mark the two holes with a pencil. Now lightly drill with minimal pressure to make two shallow pilot holes but do not drill all the way through the surface of the sheet. Screw your L-brackets onto your "E" panels at both ends and leave to one side.

Now return to your constructed frame and measure exactly halfway from the back edge of the centre and a side  "E" panels touching the back "B" panel and draw vertical lines from top to bottom with a straight edge such as a spirit level. Do this on all the internal sides. These marks will tell us where we wish to place our interior divider "E" panels so that we can align them and screw them in place using our recently attached L-brackets.

As the above suggests, slide your interior "E" dividers inside the constructed frame, then firstly screw them to the centre "D" panel with the L-rackets. Once in place, then hold them square to the outer "D" panels using your pencil marks nice and steady. Then screw the outer "D" panels to the interior divider "E" panels by drilling pilot holes and 1" wood screws.

By now, your timber bin is really starting to take shape and there’s just a couple of stages to go and that is to attach the front "A" panel. Simply lay your constructed frame on its back, place the "A" panel onto top of the front opening, drill pilot holes along the bottom edge, the two side edges and the centre line and attach with 1" wood screws.

Your bin frame in now constructed! All that’s left to do to make it portable is to attach the casters. Simply lay the bin on its back, hold each caster up to the corner edges of the base, mark the holes with a pencil, drill pilot holes appropriately and then screw to the base with your 1" wood screws.

That’s it, you’re done! Return your timber bin to its upright position and admire your handy work.


If you want to give your timber bin the finishing touch, give it a light sand with a thin coarse sandpaper along the cut edges to remove any splinters and then you can either stain it with some good quality wood varnish or paint it with hard wearing exterior wood paint.

Now you have a suitable place to store all those timber cut offs that were cluttering up your tool shed. Happy organising!

Easy DIY Projects: How to build a Plywood Sawhorse

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 20/12/2016

A simple step-by-step guide to making an adjustable, multifunctional sawhorse

If you're regularly involved in DIY projects, no doubt you've had many scenarios where a sawhorse would have saved you a lot of time and effort. Yet many retail sawhorses can be expensive, impractical and bulky. So what’s the answer?

We have the ideal home project that involves the simple construction of a multi-functional sawhorse using just a single sheet of 8” x 4” 18mm plywood that will do more than just a single job. This design will give you a strong frame to use for cutting long lengths of timber, large sheets of plywood or MDF and act as a sturdy scaffold platform that will take your weight for hard-to-reach jobs indoors. So let's get started and find out how you can make your own lightweight plywood sawhorse in no time!


Firstly, you'll need a full 2440 x 1220mm (8” x 4”) sheet of 18mm deep plywood. Unfortunately, MDF is not recommended as it is not strong enough for this particular project.

You'll also need boxes of 1” and 1.25” self-tapping wood screws, a jigsaw (or circular saw), an electric screwdriver (or regular screwdriver) and some good quality wood glue.

Cutting List

Your first task is to cut to shape and size all the components of the main support frames of the horse. Firstly, you'll need to cut a total of 4 side panels labelled (A) on the Figure 2. Each of these panels need to be the exact same size at 762mm tall by 406mm wide at the base and 101.5mm at the top centre point. By cutting them to this size, you should be able to get four from your single sheet of plywood, simply by cutting them alternately with two upright and two upside down, laying side-to-side.

Don't forget cut out a semi-circular shape at the base of each side panel. This will create “feet”, preventing the horse from rocking on uneven surfaces. The cutout doesn't have to be accurate but it's essential to have this to avoid an unstable sawhorse when in use.

Next we move onto the sawhorse worktop. Cut 2 lengths of plywood at 1651mm long by 400mm wide. These will form the table top of the sawhorse and be attached together later on to create a strong, weight bearing surface.

Now we need to cut out the support joists for the sawhorse frames. From the plywood you have left, you should be able to cut out 12 lengths of plywood measuring 406mm long by 102mm wide.

And finally, cut yourself two pieces of plywood at 400mm long by 25mm wide, which we'll attach the your final sawhorse worktop near the end of the build which will act as cleats to hold the top in place, when in use.

The Build

Firstly, create a set of 6 double-lined joists by attaching two together each with wood glue, labelled (C) on Figure 2 and as illustrated on Figure 3. Clamping them together whilst they dry will ensure they set accurately with no movement.

Once your double-lined joists have set, attach them along the centre vertical line of your side panels as marked in Figure 3, 51mm from the top of the side panel and then spaced top edge to top edge 228mm apart vertically. Use your 1.25” wood screws to attach the joist at either end to create your two horse bases, as shown in Figure 3. Once done you should have two sturdy based.

To create the worktop, you can take one of two directions. You can either simple attach the two sheets marked (D) in Figure 2 using a combination of wood glue and 1” screws to make a simple 36mm thick plywood base which will be sufficiently strong enough for basic jobs.

If however, you intend to use the sawhorse for other tasks such as a step scaffold that needs to bear significant weight, you will need to build an integrated subframe to add strength and rigidity to the sawhorse worktop. By following Figure 4, you can build a basic frame from leftover plywood or ideally from a few lengths of rough sawn kiln dried timber lengths at 19mm wide by 38mm in depth.

The subframe is fairly easy to build by cutting two strips to exactly the same length as your worktop at 1651mm and then adding 5 side joists incrementally 406mm apart, cut to 324mm in length. Attach the subframe simply by using 1” screws through the plywood worktop surface and additionally through the base sheet.

By adding the subframe, you significantly increase the overall strength of the worktop and reduce the possibility of bending, warping or even breaking under extreme pressure. If you have the materials at hand to do this, we highly recommend you follow this part of the instructions.

Finally, once your worktop is constructed, attach the two remaining cleats marked (B) on Figure 2 approximately 150mm from either edge. These will act as stops so that your sawhorse remains in place whilst in use.

Now you are ready to assemble and use your sawhorse for various cutting tasks and use any one of the three different set heights of the support joists as your scaffold platforms depending on the requirements of the job.


If you want to give your sawhorse the finishing touch, give it a light sand with a thin coarse sandpaper, especially along the cut lines to remove any sharp edges or splinters and then you can either stain it with some good quality wood varnish or paint it with hard wearing exterior wood paint.

Easy DIY Projects: How to build a Plywood or MDF Step Stool

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 09/12/2016

A simple step-by-step guide to making a robust and handy step stool

No matter how tall you are, there’s always something in the house that’s either out of reach or too high to grab. Accidents in the home are extremely commonplace and falls are amongst the highest incidences that occur. An rickety chair or use of an unstable object can quickly lead to a slip or collapse under your weight and before you know it, you’re being rushed to the emergency room to check for broken bones due to a nasty fall.

Yet the construction of a simple, compact, lightweight and sturdy step stool could be all you need to solve those common problems of reaching objects safely and securely without the risks of doing yourself harm or having to go and grab a bulky step ladder from the garage outside.


All you need is approximately a 1/4 of a full-sized plywood board or sheet of MDF and you should have enough material to make the stool. Ideally, the thicker the board, the better. We recommend 12mm (1/2”) plywood or MDF minimum, however 18mm is ideal for a studier frame. That way, the finished piece will be stronger and won’t warp or bend under pressure.

To build the step stool, you’ll need a box of 1 - 1.25” self-tapping wood screws, a jigsaw (or circular saw) and an electric screwdriver (or regular screwdriver).

The Build

Firstly, you’ll need to cut out two L-shaped sides from a square piece of plywood or MDF that is approximately 380mm (15 inches) in length and depth (see Fig. 1) - the same dimensions both sides and then remove block that is one quarter of the size to create the L-shape. This block should be approximately half the length and depth of your main square piece so should measure 190mm x 190mm (7.5” x 7.5”).

Next, you’ll need to cut four batons of equal length to connect both your L-shaped plywood or MDF panels together which will start to form your frame (see Fig. 2). Each baton should be 400mm (15.75”) in length and 50mm (2”) in depth.

Position the batons as shown in the diagram and attach using a combination of wood glue and two self-tapping wood screws at each end through the sides of the L-shaped pieces. If you are skilled at wood work, you could alternatively, attempt to make jig holes in your batons which will hide screw-heads better and make the finished item look more professional. When done, you should have your basic frame assembled.

Next, cut your top step piece with a jigsaw (or circular saw) at a size of 460mm (18”) in length by 230mm (9”) in depth to allow for plenty of overhang and attach to the top step of your frame using screws through the surface into the batons below (See Fig. 4). If you're feeling confident, you could even cut out a carrying handle shape on the top step to make your stool nice and easy to move and store away.

Finally, we need to cut and attach the bottom sheet to your step-stool. Firstly, cut a piece of plywood sized 400mm (15.75”) in length and 460mm (18”) in width. Now we need to trim the edges halfway to allow for the step to slide and fit snugly inside the frame and then overhang at the front. To do this, you’ll need to cut both edges of your bottom piece 43mm (1.67”) in depth and 190mm (15”) in length to create a fat T-shaped piece (see Fig. 3).

Once cut, the thin edge of your sheet should then slide into the back of the lower step of your frame, allowing you to attach it with screws and wood glue (See Fig. 4). Congratulations, you should now have a finished step stool!


If you want to give your step stool a quality finish, give it a light sand with a thin coarse sandpaper, especially along the cut lines to remove any sharp edges or splinters and then you can either stain it with some good quality wood varnish or paint it with furniture paint.

How to use MDF boards outside

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 22/11/2016

Tips on using medium density fibreboard on external projects

MDF (Medium Destiny Fibreboard) is now one of the most commonly used composite boards on the market and it’s easy to see why.

Most important of all is it’s relatively inexpensive. You can usually purchase MDF boards at the fraction of the cost of real wood such as plywood and by and large, it is just as good, if not better at certain applications. With it’s composite construction, made up of tiny wood chips, fibres and resin, it offers a strong and adaptable solution to many building projects needs.

When cut, it tends to leave a relatively smooth edge unlike some timber boards that split and splinter, and the overall finish achieved when edged or painted can be of a particularly high standard. It’s dense, heavy and durable under most conditions.

However, most MDF’s are not great in damp or wet conditions and if put under a lot of strain, can split or crack if put under too much stress. MDF also does not tend to take nails or screws as well as real wood boards, due the fibres not being able to thread as well. That said, it still offers an excellent, cost-effective way of producing great looking finishes for a number of items such as furniture, shelving, laminate flooring, mouldings and doors. In most instances, every home in the country will have MDF somewhere or other.

Where can I use MDF effectively?

MDF is ideally suited to dry, internal environments only. Standard MDF tends to absorb rather than repel moisture, so if there is water near by, watch out! It won’t take long for the boards to soak up any damp nearby and that’s when the resin in the MDF starts to break up and deteriorate. If this happens, the boards will have been compromised and will most certainly need replacing.

There are however, certain types of MDF which are adapted to cope better under damp conditions. Both Veneered Fibreboard and Moisture Resistant Fibreboard are both designed to deal with moisture far better than Standard MDF.

Veneered Fibreboard

As the name states, this type of MDF is veneered with a thin layer of wood such as ash, cedar, cherry, oak, maple, pine or walnut to name a few. By veneering the MDF, it dramatically improves the aesthetic appeal of the board but also its water resistant properties. By choosing a strong wood as the veneer, this will inevitably improve is ability to resist water when used outdoors on all veneered facing sides.

Remember however, that if any edges are cut and exposed, these need to be veneered or protected to prevent water from penetrating and damaging the boards.

Moisture Resistant Fibreboard

Unlike Standard MDF, MR MDF does not use urea-formaldehyde based resin and instead uses a moisture resistant phenol-formaldehyde glue instead. Due to this type of resin being more expensive, MR MDF invariably comes with a higher price tag. But if you’re in need of an MDF that can deal with the wet, this the most suitable option to go with.

Extra Tips

Even if your MDF is veneered or uses moisture resistant phenol-formaldehyde resins, its is still advisable to paint or seal the MDF to improve its water resistant qualities. Where the MDF is unfinished or has exposed edges, a water sealant or paint will give you an extra insurance policy against water damage if you intend to use the boards where water is ever present.

Some MDF boards may not take a waterborne polyurethane based paint so well on first application which is perfectly normal. If binding does not occur, try applying a seal with a shellac first, then apply the sealant polyurethane once dry.

Know It’s Limitations

Remember, MDF was never designed to be used is extremely wet conditions. Even if you choose to use a veneered or water-proofed MDF, they are only suited to environments with a modest level of damp. If the area you intend to use the boards is consistently wet, perhaps you should consider using another material that can cope with such applications better.

Great Ways to Use Kitchen Cabinets & Carcasses for Storage Projects

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 11/11/2016

If you’re stuck for ideal storage solutions or can’t find a piece of furniture to suit a particular room in your home, the solution may be a great deal simpler than you first thought.

Kitchen cabinets and many off-the-shelf carcasses are the perfect way to build your own pieces of furniture that will deliver on all fronts whether it be for storage, making use of dead space and alcoves or creating a piece that you simply can’t find in the stores. Better still, it’s a great deal easier than you may have first thought.

By modifying unfinished or even painted cabinets, you can create custom pieces specially designed for your home and needs.

Here’s just a few ideas that you can create with just a basic set of tools and a little DIY knowledge.

Entertainment Centre

Nowadays, most homes have large screen TVs accompanied by a whole host of set-top boxes, games consoles and a large collection of DVD’s and Blu-ray discs to deal with. If this is you, finding ways to store and display all of these items is demanding.

By using kitchen cabinets as a base, you can easily create a custom fitted entertainment centre sized perfectly to fill an entire wall or odd gaps either side of a chimney for instance. By screwing each of the cabinets together, you can then use sheets of MDF or plywood to build the main surface of the unit and then construct display shelving either side.

Then a simple lick of interior furniture paint will give the piece the professional finish it deserves and before you know it, you’ll have an amazing looking custom TV unit that will be the envy of your friends. Your TV will sit proudly centre-stage whilst all your gadgets, boxes and cables will be perfectly hidden away from view.

With all your entertainment gear in one place, you’ll free up space in the rest of the room for furniture and accessories.

Mudroom Bench

There’s nothing worse than having nowhere to store shoes, gloves and other items in hallways that are lacking in storage. A bench is easy to build using shallow height kitchen wall cabinets.

Attach three or four carcasses together in a row and then finish of the piece with a nice slab of wood for the top, four simple blocks for the feet and you’ll have a great looking piece that keeps all the entranceway clutter out of site. It will also double up as a great place to put on or take off shoes, with its height being perfect for sitting.

Paint it any colour you like to suit the room and give it personality.

Custom Kitchen Island

If your kitchen lacks a little storage or preparation area, and you have space for an island, why not build you very own customer kitchen island?

Nowadays, kitchen islands do not need to match the rest of the room so instead of ripping out the entire kitchen and replacing all the cabinets, add a focal point to the room by creating a unique kitchen island to any style you like.

All it takes is two or three standard floor cabinets. Attach them together, add a nice piece of butchers block for the top, finish the edges with mouldings and you’ll have the ideal preparation unit that will only take a couple of hours to build and offer much needed storage space and display shelves.

Give the finished piece some personality by painting it a complimentary colour to the rest of the kitchen and hey presto - you have an awesome kitchen island that will transform your room from boring to extraordinary!

Raised Storage Bed

If your kids bedrooms are cluttered with toys and games, finding places to keep them is almost impossible in small spaces.

By creating a raised bed base using cabinets, your kids will have plenty of places to store their clutter and have a really cool bed to sleep on. All it takes is a couple of kitchen cabinets and drawer units each side of the bed, plus a little bit of framing and strengthening with either MDF or plywood sheets, and you have the makings of an ingenious bed base that will solve all your storage headaches.

Work Desk/Office Area

Millions of people work from home nowadays yet finding an extra room to set up office is practically impossible and very space consuming.

However, by using just a single wall in one of the rooms in your home, you can create a bar height work area that will solve your office storage and desk space needs all in one. A few painted kitchen cabinets with drawers and cupboards topped with a good slab of butchers block will give you the perfect place to work and store stationery, papers and work material, meaning you do not have to dedicate an entire room to your home office.

Window Bench

If you’re fortunate enough to have bay windows in your home or a window that overlooks a lovely view, why not enjoy it more by building a padded bench?

A few low height kitchen cabinets, a simple MDF frame and a nicely upholstered padded top will make for the perfect area for reading, relaxing and watching the world go by.

You can easily paint your finished piece the same colours as your walls to make it blend in naturally to its surroundings or paint it a vibrant signature colour to make it the centre piece of the room. A simple yet great way to enhance a classic feature of your home.

Plywood vs MDF: Choosing the right material for your next project

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 31/10/2016

Understanding the difference between the two materials

Both plywood and MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) are engineered wood products but both have very different traits and applications.

Plywood has been available on the market for a considerable length of time and is still considered to be a very reliable, pliable product for various applications. It is manufactured by binding pressed sheets of wood veneers together using an adhesive bond into one solid sheet, and comes in various thicknesses and species including softwoods and hardwoods such as oak, birch, maple, mahogany and ash to name a few.

Like MDF, plywood is available in various grades and thicknesses, allowing you to choose the correct one for your projects needs.

Lower grade plywoods tends to be used for the interior of house builds whilst higher grade plywoods are used for furniture and cabinets that demand a much nicer finish and grain, as they tend to demand the display of attractive looking knots, wood grain and consistent finishes.

MDF on the other hand is used more as a utility product to build housings, carcasses and structures, rather than the outer shell to be put on show. MDF boards are made from a dense material consisting of broken down hard and softwood residuals, and these fine particles are then pressed with wax and resin bondings under high pressure and temperatures, leaving a smooth, consistent finish.

Side-by-side, plywood and MDF are two very different looking materials and in practical use, are likewise only best used for differing demands.

Advantages of Plywood

• Is very strong and malleable, and made from multiple layers of wood veneers

• More weather and water proof than MDF and won’t absorb moisture as quickly, so less susceptible to damage

• Is stainable so is perfect for projects that demand a high end finish with wood grain on display

• Hold screws and nails very well due to its multiple layered timber structure

Disadvantages of Plywood

• Costs considerably more than MDF and can be fairly expensive when choosing higher grade plywoods

• Requires edge banding or decorative mouldings at the edge due to exposed layers on the sides

• Harder to cut a smooth edge and can split and splinter using more courser cutting blades

• No suited to complex cuts or designs and tends to split or splinter when used with a router

Advantages of MDF

• Is generally a lot cheaper to purchase than plywood

• Has a consistent smooth surface so is ideal for painting and finishing

• Consistent smooth surfaces make it ideal for projects requiring a sharp finished edge

• Easy to cut complex shapes and designs using a jigsaw, router or band saw

Disadvantages of MDF

• Terrible in moist or wet conditions as the particals will soak up water like a sponge and rot

• Doesn’t hold screws or nails well due to its fine particle structure

• Can be extremely heavy and difficult to work with due to its density

• Can’t be stained as the particles will soak up any liquid and leave a very poor finish

• Contains VOCs such as urea-formaldehyde, so care should be taken when cutting or sanding

Which product is right for my project?

The general rule of thumb is, if moisture is an issue, always opt for plywood over MDF every time. MDF will rot very quickly and will disintegrate rapidly if exposed to water over a prolonged period.

With that in mind, MDF is much more suited to indoor projects and is a popular material for those looking to build out cabinets, shelvings and other pieces that will be painted or finished off with mouldings or trims. Never attempt to stain MDF as this will not look good at all. But if you have an intricate design that requires cutting curves and odd shapes, MDF is very suited to this application.

Plywood is more weather versatile as it can be used for both interior and exterior projects. It is generally used to skin doors, as well as a good materials for custom cabinets, flooring and furniture that need a natural wood grain finish. It’s also great for projects that have a curved surface - made very popular during the 80’s at the height of the skateboard halfpipe craze.

Although far more resilient to moisture than MDF, it can still break down over time and delaminate if not treated. Exterior plywood works best if it needs to be used outdoors and regular retreating is advised to prolong its overall finish and life expectancy.

Boards Cut To Size Explained

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 03/10/2016

Using our online “Cut To Size” custom order facility, we allow customers to purchase complete, full-sized sheets as well as boards cut-to-size to the exact dimensions you require. It is our policy to be as transparent as possible and this is why all costs are displayed on every product we sell.

We know how frustrating it is having to take the time to complete detailed online forms or call and have to wait for email quotations to arrive to purchase specific sized boards and materials, so we’ve gone out of our way to make our order facility as quick and as hassle free as possible.

We hope using our website will be pleasant experience, right from the moment you visit our website, to placing your order and receiving your goods.

How we cut your parts

Once your order is submitted, our internal system receives your project requirements which sends an optimised cutting file to our specialised cutting machines, which are the latest in CNC controlled technology Holzma Beam Saws. These saws are capable of handling exceptionally large parts, with the only limitation being the size of the board.

Note that our online “Cut to Size” service offers straight cuts only. If you require specialist custom shapes, we can accommodate using our 5 Axis CNC machine which has a bed size of 1500mm x 4200mm. We guarantee straight and clean cuts with cutting accuracy +/- 0.1mm.

Part labels are printed automatically during the cutting process to mark your order accordingly. These labels ensure all parts are collected for delivery using label scanners and are delivered safely. This also means you can track and trace your order by unique reference number.

Cutting Limitations: We can not cut parts smaller than 50mm wide. There are no limits on length.

If you have special requirements such as shaped cuts, please contact us for a quotation.

Quotations Explained

General Summary: Figures are shown for the whole job which include, board costs, edging costs, hinge costs and spray finish costs.

Board Summary: All boards used to create your project including costs and cutting time. By clicking on 'Board Preview', you will see how your parts are laid out and make changes to some parts in order to minimise waste. Please bear in mind our saw is 4.5mm thick.

Edging Summary: All edging materials chosen, meters including edging costs calculated as well as Application costs.

Hinges: Number of hinges selected, costs for drilling

Part Summary: Here we display the project selection in detail. You can print or save as a PDF download and check the whole job before adding to cart.